Animas River Spill

Photo Credit: Jerry McBride/Durango Herald


On August 5, 2015, the Gold King mine near Silverton, Colorado unleashed an estimated 3 million gallons of toxic mine wastewater into the headwaters of the Animas River.  The ugly orange plume moved down the watershed over the next few days impacting three communities, four states and several tribes.  Thankfully there was no massive fish kill, but the long-term impacts are yet to be seen.   This unfortunate event underscored the problem of abandoned mines and was international news.  In the wake of the spill, this coalition has stepped-up our efforts to deal with this massive and expensive problem.

Trout Unlimited is closely following events surrounding the spill of some 1 million gallons of toxic abandoned mine runoff into a tributary of the Animas River above Silverton. State wildlife officials estimated that the plume of orange toxic heavy metals would reach the stretch of the Animas through Durango on Thursday afternoon. The spill could threaten the health of valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat in the Animas basin.

Steve Kandell of Trout Unlimited issued the following statement:

“This toxic spill into the Animas is a disturbing incident that just underscores how vulnerable our rivers, streams and fisheries are to abandoned hardrock mine pollution. We will be monitoring the situation in coming days to assess the impact to our waters and world-class trout fishery in the Animas River. Needless to say, the health of our community and recreation-based economy depends heavily on water quality. Trout Unlimited is actively working with industry, agriculture, elected officials, the Animas River Stakeholders Group and others to find a policy solution that provides more incentives and support for cleaning up these toxic mine sites.”

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