Did The EPA Intentionally Poison Animas River To Secure SuperFund Money?

Tyler Durden's picture

A week before The EPA disastrously leaked millions of gallons of toxic waste into The Animas River in Colorado, this letter to the editor was published in The Silverton Standard & The Miner local newspaper, authored by a retired geologist detailing verbatim, how EPA would foul the Animas River on purpose in order to secure superfund money...

"But make no mistake, within seven days, all of the 500gpm flow will return to Cememnt Creek. Contamination may actually increase... The "grand experiment" in my opinion will fail.


And guess what [EPA's] Mr. Hestmark will say then?


Gee, "Plan A" didn't work so I guess we will have to build a treat¬ment plant at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million to $500 million (who knows).


Reading between the lines, I believe that has been the EPA's plan all along"


Sound like something a government entity would do? Just ask Lois Lerner...

As we concluded previously,

The EPA actually has no concern for the environment, they just happen to use the environment as a cover story to create laws and gain an advantage for the companies that lobbied for exemptions to the agency’s regulations, and to collect money in fines. There are solutions outside the common government paradigm, and that is mainly the ability for individuals, not governments, to hold polluters personally and financially accountable.

h/t Stephen

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Takeaction2's picture
Takeaction2 (not verified) Aug 12, 2015 10:03 AM

They wouldn't do that...how can you say that?  That is like saying multiple steel buildings can magically fall from Jet fuel fire..........oh wait.

Consuelo's picture

You forgot the one that fell 'in sympathy' with the Towers.    See, buildings have 'feelings' too...



TeamDepends's picture

The Destroyers are running amok.

Latina Lover's picture

EPA destroys an ecosystem, to get more money?  Naw, it must be a conspiracy theory. We all know that public servants work for us, LOL>


The Madness of the End Times are surely upon us.

CrazyCooter's picture

I really thought I had seen/heard it all and I really couldn't be surprised anymore.

Unfortunately I was wrong.




MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

As a rule, I never indulge conspiracy theories. Occam's Razor states that a simple explanation is more likely to be true than a complicated explanation. Conspiracy theorists always jump to the most complicated conclusion, instead of accepting the most obvious one. This instance is no exception: isn't it more plausible that this was just an honest mistake? To my knowledge the Environmental Protection Agency has virtually no record of misconduct up until this incident, so I don't see how they could possibly be up to something so devious.

lordylord2's picture

" isn't it more plausible that this was just an honest mistake?"

This isn't a mistake.  This is incompetence and negligence.  People at the EPA need to go to jail for this and pay fines out of their own pockets. 

Also, please don't use "honest" to descibe anything .gov does.

nope-1004's picture

To my knowledge the Environmental Protection Agency has virtually no record of misconduct up until this incident


What's this?  An acknowledgement of wrong doing by the EPA from MDB?  LMAO.

"Up until" many incidents that became fact we all thought .gov had our backs.  Gov is headed down and is grabbing funding / money / taxation all it can as it evaporates into a heap of corruption that it is.



codecode's picture

Check their email servers! Oh wait...

NoDebt's picture

I love smart old codgers like the geologist who penned that letter.  Plus he had enough balls to not only know what was going to go wrong, but to warn others and accurately predict the outcome, even from a political/money standpoint.  My hat is off to you, Mr. Taylor, super geologist.  

You truly did "nail it" with that one.

chunga's picture

I'm no fan of EPA, in fact if I could I'd shut it down today and arrest some folks. I do not see a back issue of this paper for July 30?


Heads up Tyler.

CrazyCooter's picture

I don't see it either, but it appears at lot of 2015 is missing from that list. A search on "superfund" turns up tons of stuff.


At work, no time to read, but will later tonight over a few beers.



weburke's picture

million dollar bogus can expain the repeated faked moon landings perhaps? and the cooperation of all media and govts and the stomping of scientists and educators into obedience. 

Jack's Digestible Ideas's picture

I called the Standard to verify, and according to the local who answered, "it's legit".

ZerOhead's picture

Yup... they are still standing by the story on their website. I guess the Obama administration hasn't called them yet to straighten things out. I sure as hell hope they don't pull a Bill Cooper or Barry Jennings number on the geologist...


"Yes, that letter to the editor about the EPA was published" ~ Silverton Standard


Oldwood's picture

Our question of the day is,

what exactly is beyond their capabilities in regard to crisis creation to advance their ultimate agenda?

How far are they willng to go? We will watch this story to see if they can sucessfully bury it or if it will become necessary to destroy the geologist.

I really don't like being a conspiracy nut, but at some point it becomes raw denial to ignore it....everywhere.

strannick's picture

The broken window fallacy on an epic scale. Keynes would be proud.

Central Bankster's picture

Does this seem like the actions of agency that is more concerned with people's health and protecting the environment or does this seem like the actions of an agency which has a primary goal of expanding its influence and insuring its future existence?



Supernova Born's picture

False flag of sorts against gold and gold mining.

It will serve to increase public opposition to gold mining, increase .gov regulation of gold mining with associated decreased margins, decrease public opposition to a ban on private ownership of gold.

They'll now claim it is the barbarous and environment destroying relic.

To get Superfund status or defray .gov costs? Hooey. .Gov needs no permission to prosecute/sue and .gov creates their fiat out of thin air

An environmental catastrophe splashed across the west to further bankster's anti-gold propaganda.

"A mine named The Gold King poisons drinking water across the western US in the midst of an epic drought."

Sounds scripted by the most powerful there are.




dark pools of soros's picture

They're selling weed so everyone will think orange is the new blue





Paveway IV's picture

So why hasn't Tyler bothered going back a few more years in the Silverton Standard and provide more information on the root cause of this problem? Sunnyside Mining (now owned by Kinross) had a silver mine at a lower elevation called the American Tunnel that was discharging well over a thousand gallons a minute of drainage in the late 90's.

The American Tunnel mine had shut down in 1991, but Sunnyside was still responsible for, and was treating the drainage. They didn't care to do this forever, and it wasn't ever going to stop. They worked out a deal with the state to plug the mine's enterances with cement bulkheads, sealing the drainage back in the mine itself. In exchange for that 'solution', the consent decree they finagled cleared them of further responsibility for the mine. That was with the state. They don't want the site declared a SuperFund site because that would potentially make them liable to the federal government to clean up their mess - they couldn't hide behind the skirts of Colorado judges any more.

The 'fix' ended up being a colossal failure. After the American Tunnel filled up, Mines at higher elevations that had previously not drained at ALL eventually started spewing drainage from their portals (around 2004-5). The Red and Bonita portals drainage problem will be 'solved' by.... wait for it... plugging the portals with cement bulkheads. I think they have temporary ones now. Gold King - even further up - wasn't thought to be a problem (yet). Gold King had a temporary earthen bulkhead from earlier this year - they didn't have any idea that the drainage from all those mines had backed up to the Gold King as much as it had.

This entire disaster seems to have started with Sunnyside and Colorado picking a seriously strange solution to the American Tunnel drainage problem they were trying to hide rather than fix. Repeatedly plugging lower/downstream mines and backing up drainage to 'someone else's mine' in less touristy areas seem to be the game here. Eventually, Kinross and the State of Colorado will have shifted the problem to a bunch of small mine owners who can't bribe Colorado judges for wacky solutions and also have dragged the EPA in to pour FEDERAL tax dollars in to the state to fix the problem they caused. 

While the EPA's accident was unfortunate, their solution (under ideal conditions) would be a failure: you can't keep plugging mines and backing up millions of gallons of drainage and hope it magially filters out clean(er) through fissures somewhere else. NONE OF THIS would have happened if Sunnyside continued to treat the thousand gallons a minute of drainage from American Tunnel in 2001. None of this would have happened if a proper treatment plant existed all along. None of this is going to be fixed by backing up tens of millions of gallons of drainage in the mountains and plugging whatever hole it eventually spews out of, or building a treatment plant somewhere back in the hills instead of at American Tunnel.

Interesting that this is now being spun as 'the EPA wants the business from Superfund' rather than the much simpler, obvious intent: Kinross and the State of Colorado covering up their 2001 'experiment' to make the American Tunnel drainage probem disappear.

ZerOhead's picture

Great info...

The el cheapo "Plug and Play" method of abandoning former minesites should never have been sanctioned. Since most of the hard rock gold and silver produced comes from these sulphide deposits that usually contain toxic heavy metals that are easily dissolved by acidic waters... well... it might be a wise idea to fix this problems before gold hits $10,000/oz.

That and the complete dissappearance of salmon from gold bearing rivers and streams will be major problems going forward when fiat takes the big dirtnap...

Paveway IV's picture

Which is another odd situation. Silverton was a pretty prosperous mining community back in the day - good, well-paying jobs by any standards. Now, Silverton is half deserted and the few hundred hold-outs have been reduced to crappy serivce jobs in the tourist industry - only in season, of course. If gold does go to 10,000/oz., there's a good chance that mining (and the good-paying jobs it creates) would return to the area. If they declare the Cement Creek area a Superfund site, then forget it - no mining company will touch the place.

So the residents of Silverton and that region of Colorado have a huge stake in this, too. While they want the mine drainage problems fixed, they're terrified of the federal government showing up 'to help'. The people in Silverton are painfully aware of the problems left by old mining companies, but there's a certain amount of tolerance one would have if it meant a 50-year-old guy with a family has a $75,000/yr full-time heavy-equipment operator job rather than working three part-time, no-benefit, minimum-wage jobs renting kayaks, selling tacos and bartending.

This is so fucked. Engineers are smart enough to figure out all these problems today. Mining's environmental impacts can be minimized by responsible mining - we can't just stop all mining in the U.S. and it's not necessary. But between cheap-assed miners, corrupt politicians and government regulators, why even bother - it will never happen. Easier to declare it a Superfund site for the taxpayer bux, kick out the tourists, depopulate the rest of Silverton, seize their land and ship crates of EBT cards to the hold-outs. That's the new American way.

The only 'mining' America is willing to invest in today is taxpayer mining - there is an endless stream of resources and no clean-up costs. Until everyone is on EBT and the government scratches it's head and wonders why there are no working people or taxpayers left in the U.S. 

Hard to believe shaved apes can't boil water, dig a rock out of the ground or get from point A to point B today without killing everyone on the planet. What the hell are you people thinking? 

demi urge's picture

Well, declaring it SUPERFUND is the only way the EPA could do the work and then have a legal platform to sue Kinross into paying for the cleanup.

That said, THANK YOU for the great two posts above.  Here's a very solid article from 2005 that further delineates everything you're talking about...


"At the heart of the dispute is a deal hammered out a decade ago between the Sunnyside Gold Corporation and the state's Water Quality Control Division (WQCD), part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, to settle a Denver court case. At one point the largest employer in San Juan County, Sunnyside stopped mining in 1991 and then spent millions cleaning up its site and treating the toxic water that flowed from its mine. The court settlement allowed the company to seal up the mine, installing bulkheads at the portals and flooding its workings, in exchange for undertaking other projects to improve water quality in the Animas basin."

Paveway IV's picture

Thanks, demi - great article. Never knew about all the other soap-opera regarding the situation. Incidentally, it took me maybe a half-hour on Google to dig up that back story on the mines. Plenty of orange river pictures on the MSM, but they apparently don't have access to Google. ZH scoops the knuckle-dragging stenographers again!

I had often mused about bumming around Colorado and looking for an old gold mine to work in my retirement. If anything, that article has completely cured me of any such insane fantasies. I think I'll just stop by the mining museum in Silverton if I'm ever out that way. Maybe rent a kayak, pick up a taco and have a beer at the local watering hole - so some local guy can buy his kids new shoes.

conscious being's picture

Paveway re. your retirement gold mining dream. Here's another way w/o the liabilties. Get a mule, a tent, some scuba gear, a 45, a one or two man dredge and get up into a place like The Trinity Alps.

Paveway IV's picture

Wow - beautiful.

Just what I would want to see if I was up there in the pristine wilderness on a relaxing backpacking trip - some pissed-off, smelly unshaven geezer swearing and banging on his noisy dredge and waving around a .45 threatening to shoot it if it doesn't start working. The water in Colorado is ice cold, so same there I imagine. I'm sure you would need a dry suit. Still, it would be fun to do for the hell of it. It's good for the soul to be an idiot every so often, especially if yer talkin' tax-free gold! No... I would claim it on my taxes - I swear.

On second thought, it might be easier and more profitable to just bring a .45 and ambush any other idiots up there for their gold hauls.

bluez's picture

I pay attention to your comments, Paveway. You seem to have an inside track.

Paveway IV's picture

Yeah - Google and a crack pipe. Brain stem optional.

dark pools of soros's picture

as long as TPTB can keep reaping future dollars via printing debt into their pockets today..  that is the only place they care to farm... whether or not the taxpayers ever pay the tab they have already eaten their dinners



Paveway IV's picture

"...The Red and Bonita portals drainage problem will be 'solved' by.... wait for it... plugging the portals with cement bulkheads..."

This is consistent with the geologist's (Dave Farmington) letter to the editor comments directed at these permanent plugs. The portals do have temporary plugs right now with drains. The EPA's contractor was checking on the Gold King plug in preparation for the permanent bulkheads being placed in the Red and Bonita portals in the next few months. This is something I would expect the EPA to have done. They can't just throw a temp plug in Gold King and ignore it while they screw around with pouring the Red and Bonita mine bulkheads. 

I don't think Mr. Farmington is aware of the hydraulic connection between the American Tunnel and all the other mines or surely he would have commented on the identical issue (drainage backing up) as the result of plugging THAT mine years ago. The drainage problem was twice as bad at American Tunnel as the flow he cited for the Red and Bonita drainage.

The mere idea of plugging a mine to stop drainage is not totally unsound, as long as you're sure that it's not just going to flow through connections to other mines or out through fissures. It does work in some instances. Sometimes the engineers are not sure. It's worth a try as long as you have a contingency plan.

The point in this case is that everyone who should have known seemed to know by 2005 that the American Tunnel plug was simply back-flooding other mines and wasn't working. It's not like anyone just figured this out a month ago. Every party involved was moving forward with the additional plugging of Red and Bonita DESPITE the failure of the American Tunnel attempt and what must be tens of millions of gallons sitting in THAT mine right now. If they opened the American Tunnel and treated that water, it wouldn't be backing up into all the other mines.

The lame argument some are trying to make is that before the American Tunnel was there, the water table would have been much higher and drained out of the upper mines. Maybe that would have been the case, but who the fuck cares NOW? Treat the problem at the source today, not at the hypothetical souce as if the American Tunnel had never been mined.

adeptish's picture

Awesome as always, Paveway.

SafelyGraze's picture

1. letters or comments from retired geologists should not be allowed in print. 

you see what can happen. 

this person is clearly trying to cause trouble.

2. the letter says "hallelujah."

this is a religious expression.

letters or comments making religious proclamations should not be allowed in print.

you see what can happen.


Handful of Dust's picture

The whole thing points out one more reason I like The Don. He uses two words that are absolutely never heard in Gubmint: "You're fired!"

ZerOhead's picture

Releasing this information to the public before first clearing it with the EPA is clearly an act of environmental terrorism somehow.

I hope he has a good alibi for where he was that night...


rccalhoun's picture

i still maintain that managers didn't do their due dilgence before they dug (to see what lines were where) and quite possibily were 'playing' on the CATs.  ive been in the excavating biz for so long...i see grown men oodle over running a tractor.  coulda been a bunch of office guys on excavators and track loaders. 

i really would like a diagram of what was hit and where (at what depth) to see if my premise holds water.  what they have released leads me to believe there was a very shallow relief pond/trench exisitng near the mine.  probably plowed through it without realizing what it was.

formadesika3's picture

No. It has to be a conspiracy to get EPA Superfund site designation. /s. Keep up with the Faraday Cage dwellers comments, will ya!

Actually, as I commented earlier in this thread (below), this is a serious issue, best addressed by reference to Professor Sunstein's paper.

"We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help... but each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5)."

Cruel Aid's picture

Chilling, that guy is evil smart

joe6px's picture

Gosh, all five answers start with "government" - which is the exact opposite of a real solution.

demi urge's picture

It was at the surface level.  They were excavating horizontally back into an unconsildated dirt plug they'd placed there 10 months before, which created a reservoir of a size that they vastly understimated, and thanks to that underestimation, they unleashed the very reservoir they had created.  

The dumb.  It hurts.


"He believed the water to be only about 5 feet high behind the dirt, and he noticed water seeping from below the dirt in the tunnel of the abandoned mine.

After his team had cleared a 10-foot-tall hole in the tunnel, Griswold walked into it to check if the roof was safe. That’s when he noticed a small stream of water coming from the top of the dirt wall."



adeptish's picture




Lumberjack's picture

Seeing the same same thing here. Looked up said individual but no links.

Maybe it could be available to subscribers only. 


chunga's picture

I just called them and asked about it. It's legit and the guy told me they're working on uploading it. Sorry for being suspicious of dirty tricks, I see ZH bashed as a conspiracy "blog" all the time.

pods's picture

You've just outdone almost every single "reporter" at the AP.

Kudos chunga!

Son of Loki's picture

How can this possibly happen? The gubmint was in charge. They're there to help.

Lumberjack's picture

You're Hired! You did some great work on the foreclosure mess too. Great job!

Pituary Retard's picture


I live in Durango and I can affirm that this is legit. Originally, there was a pic of the actual article that started circulating amongst us locals on Saturday. Here's a link to that:



Jack's Digestible Ideas's picture

I called them to verify.


In the words of the local who answered, "it's legit".