The Environmental Protection Agency's admission that it knew a toxic spill in Colorado was likely imminent, but chose to do nothing, is fueling Republican criticism that the Obama administration is ignoring public safety in favor of more lofty goals.
The EPA admission is found in an internal report issued months before an Aug. 5 spill wreaked havoc across three states in the West that the agency admits it caused. The report showed the agency was warned a catastrophic "blowout" at a gold mine in Colorado was possible if remedial actions weren't taken.
"Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals," a report dated June 2014 reads. A more recent internal report from May also warns of a blowout.
In the months after the warnings, a containment wall holding back millions of gallons of wastewater at the abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton ruptured as contractors employed by the agency attempted an inspection.