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Don't trust the EPA on the Animas River spill

Don't trust the EPA on the Animas River spill
The Animas River flows through Durango, Colo., showing the effects of 3 million gallons of contaminated water that spilled from an old gold mine. (David Kelly / For The Times)

To the editor: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's words of reassurance and comfort after the Colorado mine spill into the Animas and San Juan rivers should not be trusted. Those placating words do not have the historical ring of truth. ("States downstream from contaminated river upset that EPA didn't alert them," Aug. 11)

I've long noticed that in the wake of any accidental spill or contamination — be it British Petroleum oil in the Gulf of Mexico or the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan — authorities, at least initially, downplay the danger and potential long-lasting damage from the accident.

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We are predictably told not to worry our pretty little heads about the seriousness of the contamination. It's only later that the appalling truth becomes apparent: that the toxic slop left behind is, in fact, a major problem, cleanup costs continue to skyrocket and formerly life-giving water becomes life-taking water devoid of aquatic life and a danger to all.

Linda Nicholes, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: I hope this puts the final nail in the coffin of the proposed Pebble Mine above Bristol Bay in Alaska that would impound untold millions of tons of toxic waste just above one of the richest fisheries on Earth. Same for several new mines proposed at the headwaters of some of the most important salmon rivers in British Columbia.

If this spill derails those projects, that is the only silver lining to this fiasco.

My heart breaks for the Animas River and all the people and animals dependent on it. Of course, mining waste has come down this river many times before.

I have taken the steam train along the river several times and always noticed that not only did the river seem unnaturally blue but that all of the rocks along the banks are stained with the same bright yellow color as the toxic sludge going down the river now. Point being, it may have supported trout recently, but you couldn't get me to drink out of it even before this happened.

Crista Worthy, Boise, Ida.

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To the editor: Rio de Las Animas de Perdidas is the full name of the river contaminated in Colorado. The River of Lost Souls flows past my childhood home in Aztec, N.M.

How many fish, birds and other wildlife, livestock, pets and people will be lost now? Has the soul of the river been lost forever?

EPA Regional Administrator Shaun McGrath said, "I want to come clean here." That was a bad choice of words. He can come clean, but will the river ever become clean?

Katy Scott Moss, Laguna Beach

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