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EPA to Install Water Treatment System at Gold King Mine


Waste from the Gold King Mine in Southwest Colorado continues to flow nearly two months after millions of gallons of the toxic material were released into local waterways. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a new plan to help clean it up, by installing a water treatment system near the mouth of the mine. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The EPA currently uses a series of settling ponds to filter the nearly 550 gallons of metal-laden water per minute that still flow. But the agency says winter temperatures will make that treatment method unsafe for workers.

The new temporary filtration system is designed to remove solids and metals from the water, and neutralize the discharge from the mine.

On August 5, EPA and contract workers released 3 million gallons of mine waste into the Animas River, which then flowed into the San Juan River. The EPA says recent tests in those waterways show pre-spill conditions, and the waste has diffused and settled into the riverbeds. They also say the Gold King Mine is one of many area mines that discharge waste into local rivers and streams.

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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