What About This…? 10.8.2015

By Wayne William Cipriano

Like everyone else around here I understand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) some­times goes overboard in its efforts to keep our land, air and water clean.  And, just like everyone else, I may disagree with their methods from time to time but I certainly agree with their objectives.

I remember being in New York City during the 1960s and hearing that just breathing the air was equiv­alent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.   That may have been an ex­aggeration, but the air there now is much cleaner than it was then, and that is for sure.

Los Angeles used to have an inverted bowl of smog visible from miles away as you flew into the city that today may not have totally dis­appeared but is much less noticeable than it was.  You do not hear Ange­lenos joking anymore about not trusting air they cannot see.

So, for all its faults, the EPA has had I would say a positive effect on our country’s land, water and air.  But, the EPA did mess up deluxe when it caused a three-million gallon lake of gold-mining detritus to flow into a Colorado River during the first week of August 2015.

I heard there was lead, mercury, arsenic, and a host of other stuff you would not want to drink that turned the river water a mustard color that was just plain pathetic.

The strange thing was that just a few days after the accident, Colo­rado’s governor was shown drinking water from the river (after an anti-bacterial treatment) in an effort to convince tourists and locals, I assume, that the water was not pol­luted.  A few days after that, the EPA said the water was sort of okay.  I think you could water plants, per­haps bathe, but not yet drink the water safely. Or, something like that.

The reason I am vague about the particulars here is that each time I heard the rate at which the monster mustard spill was being “fixed” I could not help asking myself if it was you or me that knocked out the plug that released all that pollution, and not the EPA, would the “relative safety” of the river be this quickly certified?

Even after the yellow color had washed down river, many residents (some no doubt listening for the Ka-Jing they hoped to split with their personal injury lawyers) were won­dering how much of the river bed was coated by these chemicals only to be stirred up when the river flowed more rapidly after the next big storm.

If it had been you or me who caused three million gallons of water-born heavy metals and other noxious chemicals to flow down a river near us, would the EPA sign off on the “fix” after just a few days, relying on the fast current of the river to take the pollutants some­where down stream?  If it was you or me who had done it, I think it would have taken the EPA just a bit longer, don’t your?