BHP posts 86 percent profit drop as commodity prices tumble

SYDNEY (AP) — BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, reported an 86 percent drop in annual profit on Tuesday amid plummeting commodity prices, as the company warned that China's slowing economy would lead to further market volatility.

BHP saw a net profit of $1.9 billion for the 12 months to June 30, down from $13.8 billion a year ago, the Melbourne, Australia-based company said in a statement. Revenue was down 22 percent to $52 billion.

New documents raise more questions about Colorado mine spill

Documents released by U.S. officials have revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency knew of the potential for a blowout of toxic wastewater from a Colorado mine more than a year before a government cleanup team accidentally triggered such a release earlier this month.

About 3 million gallons of water from the mine flowed into Colorado's Animas River and the San Juan River in New Mexico before reaching Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border. Public drinking water systems were temporarily shut down and farmers from the Navajo Nation stopped using river water for irrigation.

EPA knew of 'blowout' risk for tainted water at gold mine

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials knew of the potential for a catastrophic "blowout" of poisonous wastewater from an inactive gold mine, yet appeared to have only a cursory plan to deal with such an event when a government cleanup team triggered a 3-million-gallon spill, according to internal documents released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA released the documents late Friday following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. While shedding some light on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the newly disclosed information also raises more questions about whether enough was done to prevent it.

EPA downplays dangers of mine spill, but concerns linger

More than two weeks after a mine spill fouled waterways in several Western states, officials expressed concern Thursday over the long-term effects of contaminated river bottoms as the federal agency that triggered the accident downplayed the dangers.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency workers released more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water Aug. 5 while investigating an inactive mine site near Silverton, Colorado. The spill prompted the shutdown of public drinking-water systems and left rivers in the region tinged a disturbing yellow-orange color that has since faded.

Interior Department to lead review of Colorado river spill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department will lead a review of the Colorado mine spill that tainted rivers in three western states.

The review was announced late Tuesday after elected officials from both parties questioned whether the Environmental Protection Agency should be left to probe its own heavily criticized response to the disaster. EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King mine.

National challenge of leaking mines dwarfs Colorado spill

SILVERTON, Colorado (AP) — It will take many years and many millions of dollars simply to manage and not even remove the toxic wastewater from an abandoned mine that unleashed a 100-mile-long torrent of heavy metals into Western rivers and has likely reached Lake Powell, experts said.

Plugging Colorado's Gold King Mine could simply lead to an eventual explosion of poisonous water elsewhere, so the safest solution, they said Thursday, would be to install a treatment plant that would indefinitely clean the water from Gold King and three other nearby mines. It would cost millions of dollars, and do nothing to contain the thousands of other toxic streams that are a permanent legacy of mining across the nation.

EPA test results show mine spill unleashed highly toxic stew

SILVERTON, Colorado (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that surface-water testing revealed very high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals as a sickly-yellow plume of mine waste flowed through Colorado.

These metals far exceeded government exposure limits for aquatic life and humans in the hours after the August 5 spill, which sent 3 million gallons of wastewater through three Western states and the Navajo nation.

Damages in Colorado mine spill will take years to tabulate

DURANGO, Colorado (AP) — The spill of toxic wastewater from an abandoned gold mine high in Colorado's San Juan Mountains caused untold millions in economic disruptions and damages in three states — to rafting companies, Native American farmers unable to irrigate, municipal water systems and possibly water well owners. And largely because the federal government inadvertently triggered the release, it has vowed to pay the bill.

That bill could be years in the making. Attorneys general from Colorado, New Mexico and Utah vowed to ensure citizens and towns are compensated for immediate and long-term damages from the spill. But Colorado's attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, acknowledged it could be years before the full impact is known.

Experts see long-term calamity from Colorado mine spill

DURANGO, Colorado (AP) — The toxic waste gushing from a Colorado mine and threatening downstream water supplies in at least three states will continue to be dangerous whenever contaminated sediments get stirred up from the river bottom, authorities said Wednesday, suggesting that there's no easy fix to what could be a long-term calamity.

The immediate impact of the 3 million gallon spill was easing as the orange-tinted contamination plume becomes more diluted on its way into Lake Powell along the Utah-Arizona border. But the strong dose of arsenic, cadmium, lead and other heavy metals is settling out as the wastewater travels downstream, layering river bottoms with contaminants sure to pose risks in the future.

Navajo Nation says it feels brunt of Colorado mine leak

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Russell Begaye stared into a hole in the side of a Colorado mountain, watching as yellow water contaminated with heavy metals poured out and raced down a slope toward a creek that feeds rivers critical to survival on the nation's largest Native American reservation and in other parts of the Southwest.

At the Gold King Mine, Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, couldn't help but see the concerned faces of his people — the farmers who no longer had water for corn crops and the ranchers who had to scramble to get their cattle, sheep and goats away from the polluted San Juan River.


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