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EPA blocks release of Colorado mine spill documents to hide truth of toxic lead, arsenic poisoning Navajo waters

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(NaturalNews) A congressional panel is criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency after its refusal to hand over documents related the Gold King Mine spill, an incident in which more than three million gallons of orange, toxic water spilled into the largest source of drinking water in the West, Watchdog.org reported.

"It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the EPA failed to meet the House Science Committee's reasonable deadline in turning over documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine spill," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, told the site. "These documents are essential to the Committee's ongoing investigation and our upcoming hearing on Sept. 9. But more importantly, this information matters to the many Americans directly affected in western states, who are still waiting for answers from the EPA."

Smith and the EPA frequently spar over various issues, but as chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, he nevertheless has an oversight function to serve for his constituents and the American people in general, which is why he requested the documents.

EPA Director Gina McCarthy has been asked to appear before the panel to answer questions about what role the agency played in the environmental disaster, which leaked highly toxic chemicals into Colorado's Animas River on August 5. Critics have charged that McCarthy and the EPA have not been responsive, have remained secretive, and are unsympathetic to millions of Americans who live in three states bordering the river.

No plan to deal with spill

Watchdog.org reported:

For several days, the EPA didn't notify the states of Utah, New Mexico or the Navajo Nation that the spill was coming their way. McCarthy waited a week before visiting Colorado and even then she refused to tour Silverton, the town nearest the Gold King mine where EPA contractors unleashed the toxic plume into waterways that feed the Colorado River. The agency withheld the name of the contractor working on the project and other details that are generally considered public information. Lastly, the Navajo Nation, which relies on the river for drinking water and farming, received an emergency supply from the EPA in oil-contaminated containers.

In addition, Smith criticized McCarthy for taking a trip to Japan as the controversy over the spill continues to fester. He also bashed President Obama.

"EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is currently crusading on climate-change action in Japan while President Obama, who has yet to visit the areas affected by the spill, is touring the U.S. to tout EPA's latest regulation that will do little to impact climate change and will only further burden Americans with higher electric bills," Smith said.

Perhaps the worst part of the entire incident is that it was foreseeable – by the government.

As reported by The Associated Press, U.S. officials were aware of the potential for a catastrophic "blowout" of highly poisonous wastewater from the long-inactive mine, but they only had a perfunctory plan to deal with such an incident when an EPA-contracted cleanup team breached a dam holding the toxic mix, internal agency documents revealed.

Government-caused disaster means no one will be held accountable

The EPA only released the documents in mid-August after weeks of prodding by the AP and other media organizations. The documents indeed shed more light on the incident, but they also raise additional questions. For example, why wasn't there a better, more comprehensive plan in place to deal with any accidental spills like the EPA requires of private industry?

The spill occurred August 5 as workers excavated the entrance to the mine, which is located near Silverton, Colorado.

The AP further noted:

A June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup noted the mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed.

"This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse," the report said. "Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine."

Yet no real plan to deal with such a scenario existed, even as agency officials planned a clean-up project to deal with the water that was spilled.

No one has been held accountable for the spill yet. If history is any guide, no one will take the blame because it was a government-caused disaster.

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