EPA mine spill could have been prevented

Steve Way, on-scene coordinator for the EPA, stands in front of the new facility on Oct. 15 north of Silverton, Colo., that will treat water coming out of the Gold King Mine by adding lime to raise the pH before separating solids from liquids. 

Associated Press

The UN environment program says a string of mining waste disasters — some deadly — over the past decade show better protections are needed for communities downstream of massive polluted material storage sites.

A UNEP report released this week tallies 40 significant mining accidents in the past decade. Most involved dams or other pollution storage areas that failed.

Among them were a 2015 dam collapse at a Brazilian iron-ore mine that killed 19 people and the Gold King Mine disaster in the U.S. that spilled pollution into rivers in three Western states.

The report says the accident rate has fallen, but the consequences are growing more serious as waste impoundments get larger.

There are an estimated 30,000 industrial mines worldwide and many more abandoned mines that continue to spew pollution.

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