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Gold King Mine's toxic spill

This month 3 million gallons of toxic material from a defunct gold mine flowed into the Animas River in Colorado, raising concerns about the possible long-term damage from the spill. Here’s how the disaster unfolded as the toxic plume made its way downriver.

Lake Powell

utah

COLORADO

arizona

NEW MEXICO

Detailed

Aug. 5

3 million gallons of mine waste are released after debris blocking the mine opening gives way during a clean-up operation.

GOLD KING MINE

The mine waste flows into Cement Creek, which feeds into the Animas River.

Cement Creek

Silverton

Aug. 5

Plume

Path of mine’s waste spill

The sludge turns the river water bright yellow. The color will change as the plume advances.

Aug. 7

Aug. 6

At Gold King Mine, discharge rate: 740 gallons per minute.

The waste plume reaches Durango by 8 p.m.

Durango

Cages with fish are placed in the river near Durango to monitor their reactions to the plume; two days later, one of the 108 fish dies.

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

Aztec

Navajo dam

Farmington

Aug. 7

Aug. 8

Aug. 7

Plume reaches river confluence by morning. Gold King Mine discharge rate: 500 gallons per minute.

Farmington: All water intake pumps are shut down.

Navajo Dam’s water release is increased to dilute river contaminants.

Plume

Speed: 4 mph

Appearance: Muddy orange

Aug. 9

Aug. 8

EPA increases estimate of spill from 1 million gallons to 3 million gallons.

Plume reaches Kirtland by the afternoon and Nenahnezad by 3 p.m.

Plume

Speed: 2.5 mph

GOLD KING MINE

Silverton

Lake Powell

COLORADO

utah

Nenahnezad

arizona

Farmington

Lake Powell

Shiprock

Kirtland

NEW MEXICO

Aug. 12

Aug. 11

Aug. 10

After sample review, Utah Department of Health recom-

mends not drinking and washing at San Juan River.

At Shiprock, water

pH levels shows no acidity due to dilution.

Plume not visible.

Plume

Appearance: Red

What is in the mine waste?

The waste released from the Gold King Mine contains metal compounds that are linked to harmful side effects if consumed or someone comes into contact with them.

Arsenic: Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feet and hand numbness, partial paralysis and blindness.

Copper: Gastrointestinal distress to liver or kidney damage.

Lead: Delays in physical or mental development, kidney problems and high blood pressure.

Manganese: Affects visual reaction time, hand steadiness and eye-hand coordination.

Zinc: Diarrhea, abdominal pain or vomiting.

The mine waste got deluted during the process as it made its way through the Animas River.

Lake Powell

utah

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

arizona

Lake Powell

Detailed

Aug. 5

3 million gallons of mine waste are released after debris blocking the mine opening gives way during a clean-up operation.

GOLD KING MINE

The mine waste flows into Cement Creek, which feeds into the Animas River.

Cement Creek

Silverton

Aug. 5

Plume

The sludge turns the river water bright yellow. The color will change as the plume advances.

Path of mine’s waste spill

Aug. 6

The waste plume reaches Durango by 8 p.m.

Cages with fish are placed in the river near Durango to monitor their reactions to the plume; two days later, one of the 108 fish dies.

Durango

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

Aug. 7

Aug. 7

At Gold King Mine, discharge rate: 740 gallons per minute.

Farmington: All water intake pumps are shut down.

Aztec

Navajo dam

Farmington

Aug. 7

Navajo Dam’s water release is increased to dilute river contaminants.

Aug. 8

Plume

Plume reaches river confluence by morning. Gold King Mine discharge rate: 500 gallons per minute.

Speed: 4 mph

Appearance: Muddy orange

Aug. 11

Aug. 9

Aug. 8

Aug. 10

At Shiprock, water

pH levels shows no acidity due to dilution.

EPA increases estimate of spill from 1 million gallons to 3 million gallons.

Plume reaches Kirtland by the afternoon and Nenahnezad by 3 p.m.

Plume not visible.

Plume

Plume

Speed: 2.5 mph

Appearance: Red

GOLD KING MINE

Silverton

Moctezuma Creek

Bluff

Aneth

Lake Powell

Mexican Hat

COLORADO

utah

NEW MEXICO

arizona

Farmington

Lake Powell

Shiprock

Nenahnezad

Kirtland

Aug. 12

After sample review, Utah Department of Health recommends not drinking and washing at San Juan River.

What is in the mine waste?

The waste released from the Gold King Mine contains metal compounds that are linked to harmful side effects if consumed or someone comes into contact with them.

Arsenic: Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feet and hand numbness, partial paralysis and blindness.

Copper: Gastrointestinal distress to liver or kidney damage.

Lead: Delays in physical or mental development, kidney problems and high blood pressure.

Manganese: Affects visual reaction time, hand steadiness and eye-hand coordination.

Zinc: Diarrhea, abdominal pain or vomiting.

The mine waste got deluted during the process as it made its way through the Animas River.

Aug. 5

3 million gallons of mine waste are released after debris blocking the mine opening gives way during a clean-up operation.

Lake Powell

utah

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

arizona

Lake Powell

Detailed

What is in the mine waste?

The waste released from the Gold King Mine contains some metal compounds that are linked to harmful side effects if consumed or someone comes into contact with them.

GOLD KING MINE

Arsenic: Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feet and hand numbness, partial paralysis and blindness.

Cement Creek

Silverton

The mine waste flows into Cement Creek, which feeds into the Animas River.

Copper: Gastrointestinal distress to liver or kidney damage.

Lead: Delays in physical or mental development, kidney problems and high blood pressure.

Aug. 5

Plume

The sludge turns the river water bright yellow. The color will change as the plume advances.

Manganese: Affects visual reaction time, hand steadiness and eye-hand coordination.

Electra Lake

Zinc: Diarrhea, abdominal pain or vomiting.

San Juan National Forest

Path of mine’s waste spill

The mine waste got deluted during the process as it made its way through the Animas River.

Aug. 6

Lake Nighthorse

The waste plume reaches Durango by 8 p.m.

Durango

Cages with fish are placed in the river near Durango to monitor their reactions to the plume; two days later, one of the 108 fish dies.

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

Aug. 7

Aug. 7

Farmington: All water intake pumps are shut down.

At Gold King Mine, discharge rate: 740 gallons per minute.

Aztec

Navajo dam

Aug. 7

Farmington

Navajo Dam’s water release is increased to dilute river contaminants.

Aug. 8

Plume

Plume reaches river confluence by morning. Gold King Mine discharge rate: 500 gallons per minute.

Speed: 4 mph

Appearance: Muddy orange

Aug. 11

Aug. 10

Aug. 9

Aug. 8

Plume not visible.

At Shiprock, water

pH levels shows no acidity due to dilution.

EPA increases estimate of spill from 1 million gallons to 3 million gallons.

Plume reaches Kirtland by the afternoon and Nenahnezad by 3 p.m.

Plume

Plume

Speed: 2.5 mph

Appearance: Red

GOLD KING MINE

Silverton

Moctezuma Creek

Bluff

Aneth

Lake Powell

Mexican Hat

COLORADO

utah

arizona

NEW MEXICO

Lake Powell

Farmington

Shiprock

Nenahnezad

Kirtland

Aug. 12

After sample review, Utah Department of Health recommends not drinking and washing at San Juan River.

Aug. 5

3 million gallons of mine waste are released after debris blocking the mine opening gives way during a clean-up operation.

Lake Powell

COLORADO

utah

arizona

NEW MEXICO

Lake Powell

Detailed

What is in the mine waste?

The waste released from the Gold King Mine contains metal compounds that are linked to harmful side effects if consumed or someone comes into contact with them.

GOLD KING MINE

Cement Creek

Silverton

Arsenic: Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feet and hand numbness, partial paralysis and blindness.

The mine waste flows into Cement Creek, which feeds into the Animas River.

Copper: Gastrointestinal distress to liver or kidney damage.

Aug. 5

Plume

Lead: Delays in physical or mental development, kidney problems and high blood pressure.

The sludge turns the river water bright yellow. The color will change as the plume advances.

Electra Lake

Path of mine’s waste spill

Manganese: Affects visual reaction time, hand steadiness and eye-hand coordination.

San Juan National Forest

Zinc: Diarrhea, abdominal pain or vomiting.

The mine waste got deluted during the process as it made its way through the Animas River.

Aug. 6

The waste plume reaches Durango by 8 p.m.

Lake Nighthorse

Durango

Cages with fish are placed in the river near Durango to monitor their reactions to the plume; two days later, one of the 108 fish dies.

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

Aug. 7

Aug. 7

Farmington: All water intake pumps are shut down.

At Gold King Mine, discharge rate: 740 gallons per minute.

Aztec

Navajo dam

Farmington

Aug. 7

Navajo Dam’s water release is increased to dilute river contaminants.

Aug. 8

Plume

Plume reaches river confluence by morning. Gold King Mine discharge rate: 500 gallons per minute.

Speed: 4 mph

Appearance: Muddy orange

Aug. 11

Aug. 9

Aug. 8

Aug. 10

GOLD KING MINE

Plume not visible.

At Shiprock, water

pH levels shows no acidity due to dilution.

EPA increases estimate of spill from 1 million gallons to 3 million gallons.

Plume reaches Kirtland by the afternoon and Nenahnezad by 3 p.m.

Plume

Silverton

Appearance: Red

Plume

Speed: 2.5 mph

Moctezuma Creek

Bluff

Aneth

Lake Powell

Mexican Hat

COLORADO

utah

arizona

NEW MEXICO

Lake Powell

Farmington

Shiprock

Aug. 12

Nenahnezad

Kirtland

After sample review, Utah Department of Health recommends not drinking and washing at San Juan River.

Aug. 5

3 million gallons of mine waste are released after debris blocking the mine opening gives way during a clean-up operation.

GOLD KING MINE

Lake Powell

Cement Creek

COLORADO

utah

arizona

NEW MEXICO

Lake Powell

Silverton

Detailed

The mine waste flows into Cement Creek, which feeds into the Animas River.

What is in the mine waste?

The waste released from the Gold King Mine contains metal compounds that are linked to harmful side effects if consumed or someone comes into contact with them.

Aug. 5

Plume

The sludge turns the river water bright yellow. The color will change as the plume advances.

Electra Lake

Arsenic: Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feet and hand numbness, partial paralysis and blindness.

Path of mine’s waste spill

Copper: Gastrointestinal distress to liver or kidney damage.

San Juan National Forest

Lead: Delays in physical or mental development, kidney problems and high blood pressure.

Manganese: Affects visual reaction time, hand steadiness and eye-hand coordination.

Lake Nighthorse

Aug. 6

The waste plume reaches Durango by 8 p.m.

Zinc: Diarrhea, abdominal pain or vomiting.

Durango

Cages with fish are placed in the river near Durango to monitor their reactions to the plume; two days later, one of the 108 fish dies.

The mine waste got deluted during the process as it made its way through the Animas River.

COLORADO

NEW MEXICO

Aug. 8

Aug. 7

Aug. 7

Aug. 7

Farmington: All water intake pumps are shut down.

At Gold King Mine, discharge rate: 740 gallons per minute.

Plume reaches river confluence by morning. Gold King Mine discharge rate: 500 gallons per minute.

Navajo Dam’s water release is increased to dilute river contaminants.

Aztec

Plume

Speed: 4 mph

Appearance: Muddy orange

Navajo dam

Farmington

Aug. 12

Aug. 11

Aug. 10

Aug. 9

Aug. 8

GOLD KING MINE

At Shiprock, water

pH levels shows no acidity due to dilution.

After sample review, Utah Department of Health recommends not drinking and washing at San Juan River.

Plume not visible.

EPA increases estimate of spill from 1 million gallons to 3 million gallons.

Plume reaches Kirtland by the afternoon and Nenahnezad by 3 p.m.

Silverton

Plume

Appearance: Red

Moctezuma Creek

Plume

Bluff

Speed: 2.5 mph

Lake Powell

Aneth

Mexican Hat

utah

COLORADO

arizona

NEW MEXICO

Lake Powell

Farmington

Shiprock

Nenahnezad

Kirtland

Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Times reports

Lorena Iñiguez Elebee @latimesgraphics


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