Erin Brockovich accuses feds of lying about mine waste spill

Wild horse & burro advocates continually see that the BLM allows mines to expand, but round up wild horses and burros to the point of extinction while claiming that the wild horses and burros cause “degradation to the range.”  Advocates must continue to publicly point out the BLM’s hypocricy and favoritism of “uses” that make more money on public lands (which is violation of FLPMA – the Federal Land Policy and Management Act).  BLM mismanagement/catering to special interests continues to put our environment in great peril, including the environmental risks from mining and abandoned mines.  It’s important to bring up public lands issues in relation to our fight to save the last of our wild horses and burros.   We must also fight to keep clean water for future generations.  –  Debbie

Source:  yahoo news/Associated Press

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich visits San Juan River on Navajo Nation downstream from the Gold King Mine spill on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, near Shiprock, N.M. Brockovich accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of lying about how much toxic wastewater spilled from the Colorado mine and fouled rivers in three Western states. (Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via AP) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich visits San Juan River on Navajo Nation downstream from the Gold King Mine spill on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, near Shiprock, N.M. Brockovich accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of lying about how much toxic wastewater spilled from the Colorado mine and fouled rivers in three Western states. (Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via AP)

SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) — Environmental activist Erin Brockovich, made famous from the Oscar-winning movie bearing her name, on Tuesday accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of lying about how much toxic wastewater spilled from a Colorado mine and fouled rivers in three Western states.

Her allegation came during a visit to the nation’s largest American Indian reservation, where she saw the damage and met with Navajo Nation leaders and farmers affected by last month’s spill, which was triggered by an EPA crew during excavation work.

Brockovich said she was shocked by the agency’s actions leading up to the release of waste tainted with heavy metals and its response afterward.

“They did not tell the truth about the amount. There were millions and millions of gallons,” she said while speaking to a crowd of high school students in Shiprock, New Mexico.

The EPA did not immediately respond to email and telephone requests for comment Tuesday. The agency initially pegged the spill at 1 million gallons but later said it was likely three times that amount given the readings of stream gauges that recorded a spike in river flows.

The revision only added to the suspicion of local officials that were criticizing the agency for failing to notify them sooner that the contaminated plume was headed downstream.

Uncertainty lingers over the long-term dangers to public health and the environment from the spill, which contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. EPA says the threat has eased, allowing treatment plants to start drawing water from the rivers again and ending warnings against recreational activities. But Navajo leadership is skeptical.

Water flows down Cement Creek just below the site of the blowout at the Gold King mine which triggered a major spill of toxic wastewater, outside Silverton, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. It will take years, if not decades, and many millions of dollars to clean up and manage the toxic wastewater from a this Colorado mine that unleashed a 100-mile-long torrent of heavy metals, affecting the livelihoods of residents in three states, according to some experts. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Water flows down Cement Creek just below the site of the blowout at the Gold King mine which triggered a major spill of toxic wastewater, outside Silverton, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. It will take years, if not decades, and many millions of dollars to clean up and manage the toxic wastewater from a this Colorado mine that unleashed a 100-mile-long torrent of heavy metals, affecting the livelihoods of residents in three states, according to some experts. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

A series of congressional hearings investigating the spill will begin Wednesday. Republican committee leaders in the House and Senate say that EPA officials have withheld documents that could explain what went wrong.

Navajo President Russell Begaye also questions the number of gallons released. He recounted for Brockovich what he saw during an unannounced visit to the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, days after the spill. He said he saw a wide gully that was several feet deep and water continuing to pour out of the mine.

Some Navajo irrigation systems remain shuttered until the tribe receives results from its own water and sediment testing. As a result, Begaye has said thousands of acres of crops have gone dry.

Begaye and Brockovich met with farmers to discuss the effects of the spill on irrigation as well as the legacy of contamination left behind by decades of uranium mining.

During the stop in Shiprock, they told the students that it will be up to the next generation to hold government and private industry accountable.

“It’s a terrible disaster, and unfortunately it’s a situation we see playing itself out not only on the Navajo Nation, but across the United States of America,” Brockovich said, referring to pollution and lax enforcement.

“You are the future and you will be the answers,” she told the students.

Brockovich was portrayed in the 2000 movie, “Erin Brockovich,” which earned actress Julia Roberts an acting Oscar. The environmental advocate helped investigate a major case of groundwater contamination in California in the early 1990s that inspired the film.

As for the Gold King spill, Brockovich said the federal government needs to clean up the mess.

Navajo officials say the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the EPA have declined the tribe’s requests for continued help, including the appointment of a federal recovery coordinator.

A FEMA spokeswoman said the EPA was the lead agency and would be responsible for coordinating with the tribe and other local governments.

16 comments on “Erin Brockovich accuses feds of lying about mine waste spill

  1. Copied to Facebook. Thank God Erin B is involved. I emailed her a couple times because theres so many issues on tribal soil…NM in general and Concerns about waste water if they reopen plants for horse slaughter. Hey. We need everyone. I hope she wins!

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  2. Go Erin—let them have it with your all–way to much crap is going with the BLM and the Government is letting them get away with it. Slaughter is not the answer for these Animals, [penning these wild horses up and not taken care of them is not right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That certainly is a one sided biased article! Lets let the ranchers regulate themselves!
      “According to authorities in the cattle business, the state water board hadn’t shown any scientific evidence expressing a relevant link between livestock grazing and water impairments”. AUTHORITIES IN THE CATTLE BUSINESS???? Of course they don’t see any impact on water from grazing! What is wrong with the state!

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  3. It’s that “Revolving Door” problem again..

    THE PROFITABLE REVOLVING DOOR AT THE EPA
    July 15, 2015
    http://www.projectcensored.org/22-the-profitable-revolving-door-at-the-epa/

    The principal victims of this relationship between the EPA and industry are the millions of people who live near the toxic waste dumps. The cleanups that satisfy the agency aren’t nearly good enough for the local residents and they often can’t do a thing about it.

    While there is no hard evidence of unlawful conduct, the revolving door at the EPA certainly poses ethical and conflict of interest questions that should be asked by the media.
    SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: SALLY ACEVEDO
    SOURCE: THE NATION 72 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011, DATE: 11/6/89
    TITLE: “REVOLVING DOOR AT THE EPA”
    AUTHOR: JIM SIBBISON

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  4. Was BLM Manager’s Relationship with Industry Too Obvious to Be Ignored?
    Aug 26, 2010
    http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2010/08/was-blm-managers-relationship-with-industry-too-obvious-to-be-ignored.html

    One important note to the recent Inspector General (IG) report on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manager-turned industry group president Steve Henke is that the investigation was provoked by a referral from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). That kind of GAO referral is, in our experience, rarely seen. It’s great to see members of the oversight community work together and the IG deserves kudos for following through on the referral. But it’s also clear that in the course of conducting reports raising concerns about
    BLM’s use of CATEGORICAL EXCLUSIONS and land value oversight, GAO investigators were concerned that Henke was too close to oil and gas industry officials-and perhaps felt that those ties were so egregious that they simply couldn’t be ignored.

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  5. The CATEGORICAL EXCLUSION and how it works

    A Call to Arms (More or Less)
    August 2, 2014 by reevesimagery
    https://reevesimagery.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/a-call-to-arms-more-or-less/

    A couple weeks ago the BLM released their roundup schedule for the rest of the year. There was no small amount of hullabaloo over three specific herds – Adobe Town, Salt Wells, and Divide Basin

    First we have to start with the basics. For any roundup, the BLM follows a process known as NEPA. NEPA stands for National Environmental Policy Act, and the short of it is that federal agencies like the BLM are required to write Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) on how their plans may impact the environment. In the wild horse world, these are often referred to as Environmental Assessments (EA).

    The NEPA process is a fairly consistent one. If the BLM wants to roundup horses, they first issue a scoping statement, letting the public know that they are starting to plan on the roundup and giving thirty days to provide input and comments on the roundup plan. After that thirty day comment period the BLM writes up an EA and then submits that to the public. The public then has another thirty days to comment on the finalized EA. After that comment period has closed, the BLM must log and internally respond to all of those comments before issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document and a Decision Record.

    For wild horses lovers the process can be explained in more simple terms.

    Step 1. BLM wants a roundup and they tell everyone. Advocates respond by disagreeing with the BLM’s plans, and are summarily ignored.

    Step 2. The BLM releases an official document with “options” for how they plan to conduct the roundup. Advocates respond by pointing out all the flaws in their logic.

    Step 3. The BLM has to read all of those comments and explain in internal documents why they are choosing to ignore them.

    Step 4. The BLM declares they will use the most invasive and drastic roundup plan in their list of options.

    Step 5. Roundup

    Last Friday afternoon (just in time for it to be too late for advocates to do anything before the weekend) the Rock Springs released their plan. Here is the link, but I’m also happy to translate it into English for everyone to save time. In a nutshell this says:

    “The Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) asked us to remove all these horses immediately, and we said yes, so therefore we don’t have to follow the rules on this and can just roundup as many horses as we want in this area whenever we feel like it.”

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    • And there is a division of the USDA that does this for the BLM – It is the APHIS -Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services – there are 2 really good downloads on this agency, they decide horse and range health.

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  6. If you think watching this play out on the news, try living here. This is just one of many dangers and irresponsible national, state, and local actions or inactions we face in the “National Sacrifice Zone” known as the 4 Corners. Erin only visited the reservation. I hope everyone appreciates how many non-indigenous people are suffering as well.

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  7. This is freakin unacceptable! When is the American public going to remove their heads and stand up to this corrupt government of ours? We need to quit funding these horrors with our tax dollars and clean house!

    Like

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