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New Mexico
Environment Department

Gold King Mine Wastewater Spill of Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Affecting Cement Creek, Animas River, and San Juan River

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river sampling crews
Animas River and geese
staff collecting samples from residents

TIMELINE AND ARCHIVED UPDATES:

 

  • May 17-18, 2016:  WRRI Conference – Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds – Emphasis on Gold King Mine and Other Mine Waste Issues.  San Juan College, Farmington, NM  /  Sponsored by the New Mexico Environment Department and New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute. See WRRI website for more information
  • October 20, 2015: The draft long Term Monitoring Plan opens for public comment.  Written comments accepted until November 20, COB.   Comments can be emailed to NMENV-Outreach@state.nm.us or mailed to: NMED Office of the Secretary, PO Box 5469, Santa Fe, NM 87502-5469.  Draft Long Term Monitoring Plan (PDF)
  • October 20, 2015:  Road Map Meeting for Monitoring of Gold King Mine Spill’s Effects

    The State of New Mexico’s Long-Term Impact Review Team, named by Governor Susana Martinez during the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold King Mine Spill last August, held a public meeting to discuss community concerns and the draft Long Term Monitoring Plan. The Plan is a road map for continuing environmental monitoring activities. The meeting was held from 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the San Juan College, Rooms 9008 & 9010 Henderson Fine Arts Center, 4601 College Boulevard, in Farmington.
    Road Map Meeting Flyer (pdf)

  • September 2, 2015:  An Open House for Animas River Recovery was held in San Juan County on Tuesday 9/1 with experts from New Mexico’s Environment Dept., Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Health, Office of the State Engineer, Dept. of Game & Fish, and local and federal agencies available to the public.
  • August 24, 2015:  NMED staff collected water samples from private domestic wells in the San Juan County area on August 24-25 at the Sycamore Park Community Center.  Tests will be offered for a number of parameters including E.coli bacteria and arsenic.  More Info

  • August 20, 2015: Results of domestic well water testing are being mailed to approximately 570 concerned residents of San Juan County .  More than 500 domestic well owners brought their ‘walk-in’ samples to the County Fair last week and many recieved thier results on site as they returned to the Fair to discuss them. Today, we have completed mailing out the ‘walk-in’ test results to all of the citizens who participated.  A link to the results (personal information redacted) is in the Data section below.
  • August 15, 2015: New Mexico Departments of Environment, Health, and Game and Fish in concurrence with local officials and the US Environmental Protection Agency, today lifted the ban on San Juan County’s drinking water systems’ supply connection to the Animas and San Juan Rivers and on the public’s recreational use of the rivers with certain prudent health practices, following the August 5th Gold King Mine Spill.
  • August 15, 2015: Waters of the Animas and San Juan Rivers are now meeting all applicable water quality standards.
  • August 14, 2015:  Today the precaution against using domestic well water from wells in the Animas floodplain (near the Animas River – site of the Gold King Mine Spill) is lifted by the New Mexico Departments of Environment and Health in concurrence with the U.S. EPA.
  • August 14, 2015:  The ban on drawing canal or river water into ditches in San Juan County was lifted today by New Mexico Departments of Environment, Agriculture, and the Office of State Engineer. The interagency team initiated a strategic plan for flushing ditches as a safety precaution prior to resuming irrigation.
  • August 14, 2015:  Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced the creation of a multiagency, long-term impact review team to monitor the effects of the massive 3 million gallon waste spill in the Animas River.  The long-term impact review team will conduct research, collaborate with local communities, federal officials, and members of the public, and share information to learn more about the potential long-term impact of the spill on local communities, wildlife, and agriculture.
  • August 12, 2015: General river hydrology and additional NMED Groundwater and Surface Water samples indicated that it is highly likely that wells have not been affected by this event.
  • August 12, 2015: NMED received the second round of data from SWQB sampling from three water quality stations on the Animas and San Juan rivers. All values indicated compliance with surface water standards.
  • August 12, 2015: NMED posted an analytic report from CH2MHILL regarding the Animas River post plume sampling done for the City of Farmington.
  • August 12, 2015: NMED received surface water sampling data from EPA that indicated trending toward normal conditions.
  • August 12, 2015: A preliminary EPA sediment sample for one location showed all pollutants below screening levels.
  • August 11, 2015: DWB Technical Services Manager to meet with affected systems and provide technical assistance and discuss treatment options.
  • August 11, 2015: NMED SWQB was successful in getting baseline data at three water quality stations on the Animas and San Juan rivers and posted the preliminary results on the incident website (NMEDRiverWaterSafety.org)
  • August 11, 2015: NMED GWQB testing and preliminary data performed at the San Juan County Fair show the specific conductivity for GW to be higher than the river water and therefore it is likely that the that ground water contributes to the river flow and the threat of contamination of wells is less likely.
  • August 10, 2015: NMED GWQB and EHB began well water testing outside the San Juan County Fair.
  • August 10, 2015: Governor Susana Martinez declares Emergency in New Mexico.
  • August 9, 2015: NMED DWB contacted all affected water systems to check in and offer assistance.
  • August 9, 2015: NMED received EPA test data for the Animas River.
  • August 8, 2015: NMED DWB contacted all affected water systems to check in and recommend they consider conservation measures due to the unknown duration of the event.
  • August 8, 2015 9:30 AM: The plume passed the confluence of the San Juan River.
  • August 8, 2015 12:00 PM: Governor Martinez, Department Secretary Ryan Flynn and State Engineer Tom Blaine held another meeting in Farmington to address citizen concerns.
  • August 7, 2015: NMED Secretary Flynn traveled to Farmington and Durango to investigate the contamination, meet with other officials and hold a press conference.
  • August 7, 2015: NMED DWB contacted all affected water systems to see if they had any pH data and to determine the amount of storage each facility had available.
  • August 7, 2015: NMED contacted downstream states of Arizona and Utah and Navajo Nation to coordinate sharing of information.
  • August 7, 2015: NMED SWQB deployed two staff to the Farmington area to immediately begin surface water sampling prior to the plume arrival.
  • August 7, 2015: The plume entered New Mexico.
  • August 6, 2015: NMED DWB contacted all public water systems and recommended that they consider shutting off the intake and stop taking river water along the Animas River until more information was known. NMED SWQB notified several waste water treatment plants to obtain baseline samples.
  • August 6, 2015, 9:30 AM: New Mexico was notified of the spill.
  • August 5, 2015, 10:30 AM – Approximately one millions gallons of acidic and heavy metal contaminated mine sludge was released into the North Fork of the Cement Creek in La Plata County Colorado. A mining team working for the EPA caused the discharge.

 

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