Mine waste contamination turns Colorado river completely orange


Kayakers in Animas River (Photo by Jerry McBridge for The Durango Herald)

Tragically, on Wednesday morning, a federal mine cleanup crew released a million gallons of mine waste into Cement Creek, instead of treating the water from metals pollution like it was supposed to. The creek flows into the 126-mile-long Animas River, which is part of the river system in southwest Colorado.

Whether the sludge and muck of the river will have any lasting human health impacts, officials can’t say yet. But wildlife supporters are worried for the fish and other aquatic creatures down below. So far, recreational activity in the river is suspended, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is monitoring fish by placing cages over them, and seeing if they will survive.

Tests determining river levels and metals will be returned by mid-day today, according to The Denver Post. Officials will then re-evaluate next steps and closures.