To: Detroit Workers' Voice mailing list
Date: August 11, 2015
RE: Another toxic spill

Toxic Spill in Animas River

The top story in today’s news is of a toxic spill into the Animas Riverwhich flows through Durango, Colorado southwards into New Mexico. CNN’s Carol Costello, commenting on the spill, sighed as she said, “An old story.” Unfortunately she’s right. From the Enbridge Oil Co.’s oil spill into the Portage River near Kalamazoo to the chemical spill last year that shut down Charleston, West Virginia’s water supply, chemical spills into our drinking water have become a commonplace event. Fracking is not the only danger to our water supply, though it is widespread and growing.

This particular spill was ironically triggered by the EPA itself as itattempted to solve a decades-old problem. An old gold mine, abandoned in the last century, was leaching toxic chemicals into groundwater. EPA workers in the old mine were poking around with a backhoe trying to locate the exact location so they could put a stop to this leak. Accidentally they poked a hole in the wrong place, and thousands of gallons of toxic sludge poured out of the mine into a nearby creek and from there into the Animas River. The river, a major source of drinking water, irrigation and recreation for southwest Colorado, turned yellow from the sludge. Kayakers and other visitors were banned from the river and Durango’s water intake was shut down as it began taking in water from other sources.

Scientists took samples of the water and reported amazingly high levelsof arsenic, lead, cadmium and other toxic chemicals. Arsenic and lead are, of course, poisonous to humans and other animals that use the Animas River for drinking water. Cadmium is easily taken up by plants watered by irrigation from the river, so the toxic spill may ruin agriculture in the area. The spill’s pollution now extends into New Mexico toward the city of Farmington.

This spill shows again the necessity for tough regulation, independent regulatory commissions, and supervision by worker-citizens who have intimate knowledge of the chemicals involved as well as the methods of processing mineral ores and petroleum. We cannot leave things in the hands of corporations that come in, extract natural resources to make a fast buck, and then move on to pollute some other area. The fracking industry says, “Trust us! We’re a self-regulating industry!” But one example after another shows this is a sad joke.

-- Pete Brown, Detroit Workers' Voice,
who is active on the petition to end fracking in Michigan <>

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Posted on August 15, 2015