Independent report blames EPA for Gold King spill

News

Independent report blames EPA for Gold King spill

Incident could have been prevented but plagued by errors
This image was taken during the peak outflow from the Gold King Mine spill at 10:57 a.m. Aug. 5. The waste-rock dump can be seen eroding on the right. Federal investigators placed blame for the blowout squarely on engineering errors made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s-contracted company in a 132-page report released Thursday.
Condition at the Gold King Mine adit portal on July 14, almost three weeks before the blowout. Soil and rock had slid from the slope area and had buried a portion of the concrete diversion channel, including the ends of two drain pipes.
Excavation uncovered mine timbers and lagging at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 5 at the Gold King Mine audit. Minor seepage is visible to the left of the date stamp where a small puddle has formed.
Seepage from the excavation at the Gold King Mine’s new portal at 11:48 a.m. Aug. 4, one day before the blowout. The flow is emerging about 5 feet to 6 feet above the floor of the adit.
Wire mesh and rock bolts were installed to stabilize the outside of the mine opening, as seen in this photo taken Sept. 15.
On the Net

Gold King Mine report: www.usbr.gov/docs/goldkingminereport.pdf

Gold King key events

A U.S. Interior Department investigation released Thursday said the Environmental Protection Agency could have prevented a 3 million-gallon wastewater spill from the Gold King Mine in August. The Bureau of Reclamation provided this timeline of events concerning cleanup. Here are some key events leading to the Gold King Mine Spill:
2009: Concerned that a cave-in was holding back water inside the mine that might someday burst out, the state of Colorado tries pushing a pipe through the debris to relieve the pressure.
2014: The state asks the EPA to reopen and stabilize the mine entrance because erosion from the hillside above has covered the pipe.
Sept. 11, 2014: The EPA starts excavating the mine opening, but it stops because water begins to seep out, and a nearby holding pond might not be big enough. With winter approaching, work is halted until 2015.
July 14, 2015: EPA returns to the site.
About July 23: The EPA’s on-scene coordinator asks a Bureau of Reclamation official to visit the mine because the coordinator is unsure about plans to drain water. The visit is scheduled for Aug. 14 because the EPA official is going on vacation.
Aug. 5: A different EPA on-scene coordinator, filling in for the one on vacation, is at the site. EPA and state officials agree to insert a pipe downward through the debris covering the mine opening to reach water inside and begin pumping it out. About 11 a.m., water begins spurting through the debris and then becomes a torrent. Eventually, 3 million gallons escape.
Aug. 24: An EPA internal review concludes the blowout “was likely inevitable.”
Oct. 22: The Bureau of Reclamation report says the EPA underestimated how much water was inside the mine. The report said the blowout could have been avoided if the EPA had drilled into the mine from above, measured how much water was inside and then revised its plan accordingly.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Independent report blames EPA for Gold King spill

This image was taken during the peak outflow from the Gold King Mine spill at 10:57 a.m. Aug. 5. The waste-rock dump can be seen eroding on the right. Federal investigators placed blame for the blowout squarely on engineering errors made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s-contracted company in a 132-page report released Thursday.
Condition at the Gold King Mine adit portal on July 14, almost three weeks before the blowout. Soil and rock had slid from the slope area and had buried a portion of the concrete diversion channel, including the ends of two drain pipes.
Excavation uncovered mine timbers and lagging at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 5 at the Gold King Mine audit. Minor seepage is visible to the left of the date stamp where a small puddle has formed.
Seepage from the excavation at the Gold King Mine’s new portal at 11:48 a.m. Aug. 4, one day before the blowout. The flow is emerging about 5 feet to 6 feet above the floor of the adit.
Wire mesh and rock bolts were installed to stabilize the outside of the mine opening, as seen in this photo taken Sept. 15.
Reader Comments
click here to add your event
Area Events