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EPA Tests Show Pre-Mine-Spill Conditions in Waterways


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the results of dozens of water tests following the Gold King Mine spill last month. The tests were conducted at sites on Animas and San Juan rivers, other tributaries, on Lake Powell, and near the City of Page as recently as Aug. 25. 

The EPA compared the results of the tests to pre-spill contaminant levels in the waterways, and the agency says sediment and water quality samples generally match levels prior to the accident.

On Aug. 5, EPA and contract employees accidentally released 3 million gallons of wastewater from the mine near Silverton, Colo. The material contained more than two dozen heavy metals including lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury.

The incident caused the closure on some waterways in the state along with and states of emergency there, as well as New Mexico, Utah and the Navajo Nation. Navajo farmers along the San Juan recently voted to refrain from using the river for irrigation for at least a year to prevent soil contamination. Environmental officials say the San Juan River is now safe for use.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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