- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - The latest in the Colorado mine spill (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Federal officials say initial tests on sediments collected downstream of a mine waste spill show no risk to people using Colorado’s Animas River.

Officials said Friday that concentrations of metals including lead, thallium, silver and antimony had increased since 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater spilled last week from an inactive mine near Silverton.

But David Ostrander with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says contamination levels still were too low to be a concern. Testing included downstream of the spill site to north of the city of Durango.

Outside experts warn that any contamination in the sediments could be stirred up by future flooding, posing a risk to human health and the environment.

Ostrander says samples will continue to be collected in coming days and that the EPA is crafting a long-term plan to gauge the spill’s ecological damage.


12:40 p.m.

Officials in Colorado have reopened the Animas River to boating after 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater laced with heavy metals spilled into the popular waterway.

La Plata County, which includes the city of Durango, announced Friday that kayakers, rafters and tubers could go back on the river. It had closed on Aug. 6, a day after federal and contract workers accidentally unleashed the plume of mustard-yellow muck from the idled Gold King Mine.

A trio of kayakers spotted on the polluted water drew worldwide attention to the spill, which flowed downstream from southwestern Colorado to New Mexico and Utah.

The shocking color, caused by iron, is gone, and the state has already cleared the water for use by water treatment plants. However, it’s not known how much danger remains from other heavy metals, such as lead, that are trapped in the river bed.


This item has been corrected to show the time as 12:40 p.m.


11:46 a.m.

Officials in northwestern New Mexico have lifted the precautionary ban on the use of private well water throughout the Animas River valley after a toxic mine spill.

State health and environmental officials had warned residents living within 1.5 miles of the river against using their well water after the yellow plume of lead, arsenic and other metals contaminated the Animas last week.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn says there’s no indication private wells are pulling water from the river. He says well water sampling over the past week has shown no evidence that the wells are at risk.

However, state officials still are warning residents not to draw water from the river, eat fish from it or use it for their livestock.


11:02 a.m.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is forming a special team charged with monitoring the long-term effects of a massive toxic waste spill from a Colorado mine.

Officials have said that federal contractors accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of wastewater laden with heavy metals last week at the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. The pollution flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah.

Martinez toured the spill by helicopter Friday for the second time in less than a week.

She says that even though the water is clearing up, many questions are left unanswered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She says New Mexicans deserve to know the long-term effects the disaster will have on downstream communities.

The New Mexico review team includes officials from several state agencies.

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