The Environmental Protection Agency accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of orange wastewater during cleanup operations at the Gold King Mine on August 5. For the Colorado Public Radio newsroom, the news event was about much more than just one spill. It was connected to the history of dozens of leaking mines in the Animas River region. Across the state—and the West—there are thousands more abandoned mines that require clean up.
The CPR News team dispatched environmental reporter Grace Hood to cover the spill 340 miles from CPR headquarters. Hood covered daily developments on the spill while the CPR News team fleshed out the state’s complicated history with abandoned mines.
After environmental officials declared the water safe for southwestern Colorado residents in mid-August, the CPR news team continued its coverage. CPR News covered Congressional hearings and stakeholder meetings. The news team investigated why cleaning up abandoned mines remains such a challenge. At the end of the year, the CPR News team filed reports on the emerging preferred method of cleaning up the Animas River: Superfund status and designation. CPR reporter Grace Hood explained why the town closest to the Gold King Mine had eschewed Superfund status in the past, and how local elected officials were changing their minds.