(Rick Moran) That toxic spill caused by the EPA out west continues to be a PR nightmare for the agency. Now they’re in even more trouble with the Navajo tribe, who couldn’t water their livestock because of the contamination. So the agency sent the tribe nine water tanks that turned out to be fouled with oil residue.
Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye’s finger came up brown and oily after he ran it inside the spigot of a water tank, one of nine delivered by an EPA contractor to Shiprock, New Mexico, in the aftermath of the accident that sent orange mining waste down the Animas and San Juan rivers.
“This is what they expect our animals to drink and to use this and pollute our farmland, our canals?” said Mr. Begaye in video posted Wednesday on his Facebook page.
“This is totally unacceptable. How can anybody give water from a tank like this that was clearly an oil tank and expect us to drink it, our animals to drink it? And to contaminate our soil with this?” said Mr. Begaye. “It’s just wrong. Clearly, it’s wrong.”
In separate statements Thursday, the EPA and its contractor, Triple S Trucking in Aztec, New Mexico, told KOB-TV in Albuquerque that they will investigate the problem.
“Triple S Trucking has received assurances that each of the tanks that were used were steam cleaned and inspected prior to use at Shiprock,” said the company’s statement. “Triple S Trucking will continue to work cooperatively to investigate this complaint about contamination of the agricultural water.”
The episode comes as another black eye for the EPA, which is already under investigation for accidentally triggering the 3-million-gallon torrent of wastewater from the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, and then waiting 24 hours before reporting it.
“Every new development of the EPA spill story is worse than the last,” said Jonathan Lockwood, head of the free-market group Advancing Colorado.
In another video, Mr. Begaye draws a cup of water from the tanker’s spigot that comes up speckled with oily debris.
“It just angers us,” he said. “We told them to haul all this stuff off.”
“Steam cleaned and inspected”? By whom? Mr. Magoo? No doubt some EPA contractor flunkie thought the Navajos couldn’t tell the difference between clean and oily water. Or perhaps the EPA figured they weren’t worth the effort?
The Navajos have yet to authorize their people to use the water for anything – drinking, bathing, or for their livestock. This despite the EPA saying last weekend that water purity in the two rivers was in “pre spill” condition. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust the EPA to guarantee the cleanliness of anyone’s water, given the trouble they’re in with Congress and western residents.
Also, the owner of the Gold King Mine where the toxic spill originated says he tried to keep the EPA out but was threatened with lawsuits if he didn’t allow them access.
“When you are a small guy and you’re having a $35,000 a day fine accrue against you, you have to run up the white flag,” Mr. Hennis told CBS4 in Denver.
Mr. Hennis said he opposed having the EPA investigate leakage from the inactive mine near Silverton, Colorado, because he had tangled with theagency in previous years over its work at another mine he owns in Leadville, Colorado.
“I said, ‘No, I don’t want you on my land out of fear that you will create additional pollution like you did in Leadville,’” Mr. Hennis told Colorado Watchdog.org. “They said, ‘If you don’t give us access within four days, we will fine you $35,000 a day.’”
Typical arrogant bullying from the EPA. Now they’re paying for their incompetence.