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Animas River toxic spill - A real mess

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While the mustard-yellow hue of the Animas River is fading, leading toxicologists say there could be health effects for many years to come from heavy metals such as lead and mercury that spilled into the water.

"This is a real mess," said Max Costa, chair of the department of environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine. "These levels are shocking."


Exposure to high levels of these metals can cause an array of health problems from cancer to kidney disease to developmental problems in children.


"Oh my God! Look at the lead!" said Joseph Landolph, a toxicologist at the University of Southern California, pointing to a lead level in the Animas River nearly 12,000 times higher than the acceptable level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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A shame nobody briefed you on this, Pauline:

Last week, a cleanup crew from the Environmental Protection Agency working along

the Animas River in southwestern Colorado accidentally broke through a dam,

causing a nearby abandoned mine to spew 3 million gallons of wastewater into the

river. The spill sent lead, arsenic, cadmium, and other contaminants into the 126­

mile­long river, turning the water a mustard hue.

The river’s appearance has since recovered; it shifted to a slight green color as water

flowed away from the spill site, diluting the concentration of pollutants,

CNN reported. By Tuesday, the water looked clear.

When EPA officials first measured the presence of the toxic heavy metals in river

after the accident last Wednesday, the levels broke state water quality limits, The

Denver Post reported.

It looked pretty nasty on TV, I can't work out to where the Animas river flows, but downstream from there is obviously a lot of other rivers that will be affected. And then, I guess, the Gulf of Mexico...

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