In a Friday night document dump, internal EPA documents showed that in both 2014 and 2015, the EPA described how existing conditions at the mine set created the possibility of a blowout of contaminated waters. So EPA managers was certainly aware that the river could received massive amounts of mine sediment and wastewater laden with metals.
The EPA has been less-than-forthcoming with its responses and explanations of this catastrophe. The AP and other media outlets have been pressuring the EPA to release internal documents related to the Colorado mine; so far, the information put forth from the agency has been relatively scant.
–The internal documents that were released were amply redacted
–The EPA documents “do not include any account of what happened immediately before or after the spill.”
–”Among the items blacked out is the line in a 2013 safety plan for the Gold King job that specifies whether workers were required to have phones that could work at the remote site, which is more than 11,000 feet up a mountain.”
–“Among the unanswered questions is why it took the agency nearly a day to inform local officials in downstream communities that rely on the rivers for drinking water.”
–The EPA confirmed “its employees were present at the mine when the spill occurred. The company declined to provide more detail, saying that to do so would violate ‘contractual confidentiality obligations’.”
–“The EPA has not yet provided a copy of its contact with the firm. On the March 2015 cost estimate for the work released Friday, the agency blacked out all the dollar figures.”
–“EPA did not immediately respond Friday night to questions from the AP.”
In fact, the EPA has received a high volume of criticism for its lack of responsiveness and cooperation to any questions about the incident, but has been quick to assuage citizens that they are “very sorry.” Furthermore, the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke soothingly at a conference a week ago and described that waters are returning to “pre-incident conditions” — explaining “the very good news is that we see that this river is restoring itself.”
Which begs the question: if nature can restore itself after a man-made disaster, compounded by man-made government bureaucratic incompetence, why do we need the EPA at all?