SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – August 13, 2015 (Gephardt Daily) – Governor Gary Herbert has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Utah in response to the Gold King Mine toxic chemical spill.
The executive order comes as the first chemicals released in the three million gallon toxic plume makes its way into Utah’s waterways.
First traces of the chemicals were detected Monday in the San Juan River near the tiny town of Aneth, Utah. Remnants of the plume are believed to be making their way toward Lake Powell.
Word of Governor Herbert’s decision to declare a state of emergency came by way of the following press release, issued Wednesday afternoon.
Gov. Herbert declares state of emergency for Gold King Mine release
SALT LAKE CITY (August 12, 2015) “Governor Gary R. Herbert issued an executive order today declaring a State of Emergency in Utah in response to the Gold King Mine release.
The governor’s declaration directs state agencies to utilize all resources available to help local communities affected by the disaster.
I am deeply disappointed by the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency. It was a preventable mistake, and they must be held accountable,” Gov. Herbert said. “Our top priority will continue to be the safety of Utahns and wildlife affected. With potential long-term implications, the emergency proclamation will allow us to continue to support affected businesses and communities.”
On Wednesday August 5, 2015 the EPA released a plume of more than three million gallons of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine in Silverton, Co. into the upper portions of Cement Creek, a tributary of the Aminas River. The Aminas River flows into the San Juan River in New Mexico and the Four Corners area prior to entering Utah.
The toxic wastewater contains high levels of heavy metals that could potentially impact Utah’s water supplies for drinking as well as agriculture, economy, recreation and wildlife in San Juan and Kane Counties. State agencies have mobilized their resources to assist with local efforts, taking necessary action to protect public health, safety, welfare and property.
Governor Herbert’s declaration comes on the heals of another emergency declaration issued by San Juan County early Wednesday morning.
PRESS RELEASE FROM SAN JUAN COUNTY UTAH OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT:
Declaration of Emergency Regarding the San Juan River in San Juan County
San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman has signed a Declaration of Emergency regarding the contamination of the San Juan River by the significant spill that occurred at the Gold King Mine North of Silverton, Colorado on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015.
WHEREAS, beginning on or about 8/9/2015, A water emergency in the form of contamination from the Gold King Mine in Colorado has occurred in San Juan County, Utah; and
WHEREAS, as a result of this contamination there now exists the following conditions: the communities of San Juan County have been affected by having their water system jeopardized by the contamination. Farther reaching conditions are the contamination of the San Juan River and the residents of the county and livestock not being able to utilize water from the San Juan River. Also there is the economic impact to the County in the form of recreation on the river and at Lake Powell being at risk; and
WHEREAS, The Public Health Officer for the San Juan Public Health Department, and the Emergency Manager for San Juan County has strongly advised a precautionary emergency declaration, recognizing that the health of our citizens and visitors to San Juan County, Utah is our first and highest responsibility; and
WHEREAS, The San Juan Public Health Department’s Environmental Quality Director has been regularly testing water quality, and indications are that, while threat appears to be minimal, the reality that the short-term and long-term effects could be serious, even catastrophic, extreme caution is appropriate until further information is available; and
WHEREAS, The San Juan Public Health Department does not have adequate resources to sample water quality at all locations affected; and
WHEREAS, Agencies providing services to the elderly, disabled and emergency services have limited service capability due to the above conditions; and
WHEREAS, San Juan County Emergency Management operations are continuing throughout the County and are severely straining all responding agencies and the emergency operations plan is in effect; and
WHEREAS, these conditions have the potential to worsen and immediate attention is necessary to combat the threat to the safety, health and welfare of the citizens of San Juan County;
NOW THEREFORE, it is declared that a “State of Emergency” exists due to the aforesaid San Juan River contamination in San Juan County and such area is declared to be a disaster requiring aid, assistance and relief available pursuant to the provisions of local and state statutes.
DATED this 12 day of August, 2015.
As more information becomes available, updates will be sent out via media releases and on Facebook at the following locations:
San Juan County Emergency Management
San Juan County Sheriff’s Office