Earth July-August 2016
Bringing Geoscience to Bear on the Problem of Abandoned Mines
The article focuses on the Gold King mine release. Illustrating the tendency for the public - and governments - to focus on rare catastrophes rather than frequent minor occurrences, its' noted that abandoned mines in the Animas River drainage release the same amount of "pollutants" as the Gold King mine spill - every three days. It's also noted that early settlers gave creeks names like "Iron Creek", "Alum Creek" and "Bitter Creek", and the 1875 Hayden Expedition noted that the waters of Mineral Creek and Cement Creek (which took the initial out flow from the Gold King release) were full of "iron sulfate" and "not fit for drinking". Finally, it's commented that the number of trained mining engineers in the US is decreasing, and that the EPA, with 15326 employees, has 68 geologists and no mining engineers, and only two of the geologists are assigned to Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming).