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Old 08-25-2015   #1
Issip's Avatar
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 185
Gold King Mine Reporting is Ignorant and Misinformative

The Media, in my opinion, is misinforming the public horribly about the Gold King Mine spill.

Had the event not occurred, the contaminates that were flushed downstream in that pulse release would have eventually made their way into ground or surface water in the same watershed. These contaminates have been seeping into that watershed for decades, before any of us were even born. Prior to this noticeable release the press didn't care that the Cement Creek watershed was a total fish kill due to the seepage of these same contaminates. Just as no one seems to care that you can't eat more than a half serving of Northern Pike from Navajo Lake without exceeding your recommended maximum dosage of Mercury (according to the 2015 NM fishing proclamation) slightly different watershed but affected by the same issues.

I hear the question "what are they doing to clean it up?" - as if it makes any sense to dredge up all the contaminated sediment down 200 miles of riverbed. Obviously that would do much more harm than good, no one can clean what has already been spilled, and no one can clean the decades of seepage we ignored for so long.

What we could do is fund a real plan to slow and eliminate future leakages into ground and surface water so that our sourcewater isn't laden in pollutants, and our children and grandchildren could look forward to edible fish again, one day. But that doesn't scare anyone into reading an article or anger them into wanting to abolish the EPA, and would cost a lot of money on top of what the spill has already cost the affected communities.

Instead of fueling intelligent debate about how to deal with the serious and endemic root cause, the media is playing into the hands of alarmists and extremists who just want to insight panic in the community and damage upon the EPA.

I am pretty solidly on the conservationist side of all river issues, I'm a lifelong New Mexico resident and an engineer but I have no stake in the EPA or land near the San Juan (although I do plan to run Mexican Hat to Clay Hills in September, not afraid that the water is any worse than normal). I feel very bad for everyone affected by this, I was shocked when it occurred, but was relieved that the orange water and Ph drop didn't cause a major fish kill.

I do hope there is a positive takeaway from this but if the misinformation continues we as a society will manage to learn nothing from it.

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Old 08-26-2015   #2
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661

I agree wholly with your sentiments but don't forget that we live in a reactionary society and that the media plays off of that. They just want ratings and could give a shit about fixing the problem. The more emotion they can stir up the more papers/add space/commercials they can sell.

It's too bad there isn't a group in place that could work to swing this emotion from the knee jerk reactions to more deliberate actions for the future. There is a lot of PR potential if the local conservation district, watershed watch, hell even state DEQ would organize the troops. They may be able to capitalize on this tragedy and get more folks behind cleaning up the real issue.

In this case it sounds like the local government had been fighting the EPA all along - great time for locals to bring this up at commision meetings or what not and force their hands to rethink their opposition to superfund status. There would be a lot more $$ in the pot and way better planning if it were a superfund site.
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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