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27 MIN READ TIME

Animas River Spill Spawns Conspiracy Theories

BENJAMIN RADFORD

On August 5, 2015, contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally released about three million gallons of polluted mine wastewater into Colorado’s Animas River. The stew of toxic elements temporarily turned the river orange and caused concern for wildlife, farmers, tourism, and those who depend on the river for drinking water. Tests conducted three weeks after the spill found no harmful levels of any contaminants in the river, though many are concerned that the river’s sediments may be toxic and remain so for years to come.

Accidents and disasters—especially life-threatening ones, though the Animas spill is not known to have harmed anyone—often spawn conspiracy theories. The most popular theory claims that the EPA purposely polluted the river as a way to obtain extra funding available for cleanup; under this classic “follow the money” scenario, the EPA decided the best way to get free money for Superfund sites—as this could potentially be designated—was to create a disaster. As one typical conspiracy commenter opined (at http://tinyurl.com/okww4an), “I am thinking there were multiple reasons for something like this—funding, but also Agenda2—re-wilding of the west—they want most all of the US to be ‘NO HUMANS ALLOWED’ . . . plus if people get sick/die from the heavy metals in the process, it’s the sacrifice that must be made (from their perspective).”

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Nov Dec 2016
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