City Declares Emergency as Spill Estimate Triples

EPA now estimates 3 million gallons of wastewater from an old gold mine spilled into the Animas River, part of the Colorado River system. The wastewater contains lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals.

The city of Durango, Colo., has declared a local state of emergency in response to the Aug. 5 spill of wastewater from the abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton. An EPA crew caused the spill, and a local EPA official on Aug. 9 reported that a river gauge showed 3 million gallons spilled into the Animas River, which is three times more than initially estimated.

Some of the wastewater has reached New Mexico.

Durango's city manager, Ron LeBlanc, signed the emergency declaration Aug. 9, reporting that the EPA-caused spill "may be far in excess" of the city's resources. The declaration says the Animas River is a municipal water source for about 23,000 city residents, and the city's utility department had to stop pumping water from the river on Aug. 5 to prevent contamination of the municipal water system.