Gold mining. That’s to blame. In this case, a contractor, working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inadvertently let loose 3 million gallons of heavy metal-filled waste water that has turned the Animas River in Southern Colorado orange.
The Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, is one of a large number of abandoned small mines in the Upper Animas Basin that has long lain dormant after years of being used to abuse the earth to procure gold. Scientists say it’s the largest untreated mine drainage in the state. So work was necessary to clean up the mess. Mining companies and free-spirited miners have a long history of leaving disasters-in-waiting when their mining projects cease to be profitable. So it’s up to someone else to clean up their messes.
One water test from the spill showed lead levels 12,000 times greater than normal. The wastewater also contained extremely high levels of arsenic, cadmium, beryllium and mercury. All are byproducts of gold mining.
According to our friends as Earthworks, there are roughly 500,000 similar mines in need of clean up.
Like I said, it’s not the fault of the contractor or the EPA, who have wanted to designate the area around Gold King Mine a Superfund site for clean up. Blame it on man’s endless thirst to mine for gold.
At Leber Jeweler Inc, we exclusively use 100% recycled gold in our Earthwise Jewelry. This stems the need for new hard rock mining to procure fresh metal. Enough damage has been done to the earth. Let’s use the gold we have, recycle it when we’re through and not repeat the errors of the past. Because if gold mining continues, the Gold King Mine spill will just be a precursor to many disasters yet to come.