A huge spill of hazardous mine waste has contaminated the Animas River, which runs through Durango.

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)