it's a disaster. Last week, at least two groups of kayakers on the Animes River in Colorado discovered that the water was no longer, well, water-coloured, but instead had turned orange. They decided to run the river anyway, correctly guessing that the strange colour was due to something happening at the abandoned Gold King Mine upriver. What they didn't realize was that the river was now full of toxic wastewater containing high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum. The colour is actually caused by the disturbance of the sediments, not by the toxic elements. Just how toxic the river is has yet to determined.
It turns out that an Environmental Protection Agency crew were digging around the abandoned gold mine in an effort to investigate leaks. The mine's plug burst, and the small, intermittent leak became a fast moving wave of disaster.
The sludge is making its way towards the Colorado River, and local residents and businesses have been warned to avoid drinking, swimming and paddling in the area. Paddlesports companies in the area are taking a hit. “It’s a total disaster for us,” says Matt Wilson, owner of 4Corners Riversports in Durango told Canoe and Kayak. “The river has been closed since Thursday and I’ve lost over $15,000 in cancellations already. The poor Animas River took a major hit and we still haven’t heard from the EPA as to what the exact dangers of the toxins are.”