EPA testing data released, shows high toxic metal levels

A warning sign from the city is displayed in front of the Animas River as orange sludge from a mine spill upstream flows past Berg Park in Farmington, N.M., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. About 1 million gallons of wastewater from Colorado's Gold King Mine began spilling into the Animas River on Wednesday when a cleanup crew supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally breached a debris dam that had formed inside the mine. The mine has been inactive since 1923. (Alexa Rogals/The Daily Times via AP)

FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – Preliminary testing data from earlier in the week released by the EPA on Sunday shows dangerous levels of a number of heavy metals in the Animas River.

The data from tests taken Wednesday and Thursday, comes from various testing sites downstream from where the Colorado site EPA accidentally released millions of gallons of mine waste water into a creek that flows into the Animas River.

One test from Thursday taken in Silverton shows levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, copper and mercury well above federal limits for drinking water.

More testing results are expected to be released later on Sunday. New EPA estimates put the amount of waste water dumped at three million gallons, much higher than initially thought.

Meanwhile, as the toxic plume makes its way onto tribal land, Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye announced his intention to immediately take the EPA to court for the spill.

In a news release, Begaye demanded the federal government provide water for farmers and families who rely on the river and compensate the Navajo Nation for any cleanup costs.

Anyone with a well on the river’s flood plain is being told not to use that water at all, even if it’s boiled. Free water stations have been set up across San Juan County at these locations:


Aztec – 201 W. Chaco – next to City Hall.

Bloomfield – Bloomfield Fire Station – 911 N First St. Sunday – Friday 9:00am – 9:00pm

Farmington – Farmington Fire Station #6 – 3101 West Main St.  Sycamore Park Community Center – 1051 Sycamore St. Sunday 9:00am –  10:00am, 5:00pm – 6:00pm. Monday – Friday  6:00pm – 7:00pm

In the County:

Center Point Fire Station # 1 – 16 Road 2755

Flora Vista Fire Station #1 – 2 Road 3275

Valley Fire Station #4 – 4 Road 6200

Sunday 9:00am –  10:00am and 5:00pm – 6:00pm. Monday – Friday 6:00pm – 7:00pm.


Information in La Plata County is available here.

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