Plant that treats wastewater from Gold King Mine spill up and running after failure

Colorado’s Animas River turned a shade of yellow after the Gold King Mine spill in August 2015. (Image from archives)

The New Mexico Environment Department announced via Twitter that it received word from the Environmental Protection Agency stating that the Gold King Mine wastewater treatment facility is back up and running following a failure reported on March 14, 2019, due to a loss of power.

The electric blackout was caused by a severe winter storm that struck the area this past week. The Gladstone plant, which is in charge of treating wastewater from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado, was shut down.

The failure implied that wastewater from the mine started bypassing the facility at a rate between 250 to 300 gallons per minute. This is according to estimates from the neighbouring state of Utah and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Geological Survey sent a sampling team to the area collect water and sediment samples at multiple points in New Mexico along the Animas and San Juan rivers, which were severely affected by the original leakage that took place back in 2015.

Nearby communities were also notified of the failure of the facility and were advised to take protective measures, such as shutting off intake points for drinking water systems.

The Gladstone plant was installed about three years ago after an EPA clean-up team working at the ancient mine accidentally caused the spill of over 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater. The effluent ran continuously for nine hours and ended up polluting the Animas River and its tributaries in New Mexico and Utah with the equivalent of four to seven days of ongoing acid drainage from the mine.

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