Remember when EPA Chief Gina McCarthy said last month that all EPA mine cleanups nationwide had been suspended “unless there is imminent risk” to doing so? And then declined to tell the nation which mines had been affected?
The agency then set to work identifying sites that had the potential to suffer an EPA meltdown like the one they caused at the Gold King Mine, and although they were able to identify ten mines in potential trouble, it looks like the Associated Press also hit the EPA wall of transparency:
The sites include three in California, four in Colorado, two in Montana and one in Missouri, according to details obtained by The Associated Press following repeated requests for the information.
Only one of the four Colorado mines in the AP story was identified, which was the Standard Mine near Crested Butte:
Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep said that after work was suspended, the EPA met with residents and officials and made sure cleanup workers could communicate directly with the town in an emergency.
EPA documents show wastewater at the site periodically spills over a crudely-built impoundment, raising concerns about a “potential catastrophic failure” and the possibility of tainting Crested Butte’s drinking water. But Huckstep said he didn’t believe the Standard Mine was a threat to blow out, based on EPA statements and differences in the land.
The EPA said the town’s water meets safety standards.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesman Warren Smith said wastewater flowing from the mine was not considered an acute health threat. Work on the site resumed Sept. 4 after officials determined appropriate safety measures were in place.
McCarthy will be on Capitol Hill this week for three Animas River spill hearings beginning tomorrow, and we expect to hear her tired rhetoric that thousands of abandoned mines pose a threat to the environment. But what’s really at the heart of this matter is how many EPA mine cleanups pose a threat to the environment.