Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL), a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, participated in a hearing on the Animas River spill. The Animas River spill occurred when government contractors, working on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), spilled an estimated 3 million gallons of wastewater full of heavy metals from the Gold King Mine into the Animas River, which empties into the San Juan River. The result has been massive contamination in three states: Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
"The EPA is in charge of protecting our environment, yet it is the EPA that created this environmental disaster," Palmer said. "I am concerned that there is a double standard. The EPA has not held itself to the same standard that it would have if a private company had engaged in similar conduct. Private companies have been fined hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for similar conduct. But EPA seems to want to downplay the situation. It has not been fully forthcoming and has been slow to respond to requests for information. This is unacceptable. Congress should make sure the EPA is aware of the gravity of the situation and work to ensure this doesn't happen again."
This spill caused the temporary closure of public drinking water systems, irrigation equipment for farming, and a number of local businesses in downstream communities. The long-term effects are still unknown, but there is a significant possibility that sludge and heavy metals will be churned up by heavy rain or snow melt and could cause serious problems for various communities in the area.