The Environmental Protection Agency says the spill was triggered by investigators at the Gold King Mine above Silverton. They estimate a million gallons of waste spilled from the mine.
Jonathan Thompson is a senior editor with environmental magazine High Country News.
He told KUNC that the pollution has turned the river bright orange.
“The river normally is a nice green color, sort of deep green. And right now where that has hit. It is bright orange. It’s like orange crush, but a really thick orange crush.”
Durango and other water users have stopped pumping water out of the Animas River as they wait for the contamination to flow downstream. The Animas is a tributary of the Colorado River.
The EPA recommends avoiding contact with the river, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is monitoring for impacts to fish. (credit – KUNC)