According to the latest reports on the prime example of government incompetence that is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), internal documents have revealed that EPA managers were “aware of the potential for a catastrophic ‘blowout’ at an abandoned mine that could release ‘large volumes’ of wastewater laced with toxic heavy metals.” The Associated Press,
Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup that noted that the old mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed. The plan appears to have been produced by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.
“This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse,” the report says. “ln addition, other collapses within the workings may have occurred creating additional water impounding conditions. Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals.”
A subsequent May 2015 action plan for the mine also notes the potential for a blowout…
Much of the text in the documents released Friday was redacted by EPA officials. Among the items blacked out is the line in a 2013 safety plan for the Gold King job that specifies whether workers were required to have phones that could work at the remote site, which is more than 11,000 feet up a mountain.
The fact that the EPA first attempted to downplay the devastating extent of its spill, minimizing the impact on water quality and claiming fish were already “impaired” from mine pollution, makes the situation all the worse. How the American people are expected to trust the EPA to properly oversee a highly contentious rule that increases its authority to regulate U.S. bodies of water remains unknown.