Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Seven Day Update on the EPA Dam Breach: EPA Administrator Goes to the River while President Obama Goes Golfing on Martha's Vineyard
Seven days later and the EPA is still confusing the situation. It has reported that in some stretches of the river that the water quality is back to where it was before the spill. Yet, it also said that preliminary tests showed arsenic levels were 300 times the norm in the Durango area and 3,500 times the normal lead level. EPA continues to warn against drinking the water. Farmers and ranchers are looking at large economic losses. If the EPA weren’t a government agency, the class action suits would be flooding the courthouaw. The public wants straight answers, not mixed messages. That ignores the heavy metals settling in the sediments at the bottom of the streams and the orang coating on the riverbanks. EPA originally understated the extent of the contamination, just as BP with the Gulf Oil Spill. EPA said an estimated 1 million gallons escaped from the dam. The U. S. Geological Survey raised the figure to 3 million gallons. A BP employee was indicted for providing the erroneous estimate. It appears no heads will roll at the EPA. EPA delayed 24 hours in providing notification of the spill. That would be a crime if by a private enterprise. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy finally flew out to the river Wednesday, but did not go to the scene of the dam breach. She said it was too far. It was not too far for the toxins to travel 100 miles downstream. President Obama is golfing on Martha’s Vineyard. He has not interrupted his time on the links to utter a word about the EPA fiasco. He has not even issued the usual bromides about getting to the bottom of it or finding the responsible parties. The White House will not even confirm if the President has been recently briefed on the environmental disaster. Colorado Governor Jim Hickenlooper, who barely won reelection last year, was apologetic for the EPA. He said it’s not as though the EPA were a private company, which would be bad. EPA Administrator McCarthy said the EPA “was committed to a full review.” We are still awaiting the full reviews of Fast and Furious, Benghazi, and the IRS. Here’s what happened in a recent environmental spill that did not involve a loss of life. A Duke Energy stormwater pipe burst on February 2, 2014, spilling 39,000 tons of sludge and slurry into North Carolina’s Dan River. Investigators found problems at five Duke Energy facilities. Duke paid guilty on May 14, 2015 on 9 criminal counts of unpermitted discharges and maintenance issues. It agreed to pay $68.2 million in fines and restoration costs and an additional $24 million community service fee to the National Fish and Wildlife Fund and $10 million for wetlands restoration. Duke further agreed to a 5 year probation period with an environmental compliance program and a court appointed monitor to ensure compliance. Companies and individuals, which have felt the sword of the EPA, are hoping the EPA receives a dose of its own medicine. The Congressional Hearings could be even more painful to the EPA. EPA and the responsible contractor, Environmental Restoration LL.C., will write out checks. The EPA’s share though will come from the taxpayers, thereby relieving the agency from major accountability. Governor Hickenlooper is right.. The government is different from a private corporation.