by Herald Staff     •     Boston Herald

epa-logoSure accidents happen — it’s why we call them accidents. But you can bet if some oil company had been responsible for filling a Colorado river with toxic sludge — rather than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — the Obama White House would be all over it. The Justice Department would likely have already launched an investigation and company officials marched into federal court.

But the EPA — which in its zealotry to rid our air of pollutants wants to ride herd over every coal- and oil-fired plant in the nation — took 24 hours just to notify the residents of nearby Durango of their major-league screw up.

An EPA crew assigned to clean up the Gold King mine high in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado accidentally opened up a passage from an old tunnel in the mine, allowing millions of gallons of yellow toxic sludge to spill into a creek, and from there into the Animas River. As of Monday it had already traveled 100 miles south into New Mexico. And from there who the hell knows because it’s still flowing, heading toward Utah, including Lake Powell — an area along with Durango itself jammed with tourists this time of year.

Local officials are furious because it took the EPA 24 hours to warn anyone of the arsenic and lead-laden stew headed their way. And the earlier estimate of a 1 million gallon spill later measured at least 3 million gallons.

Yes EPA officials have apologized, but then so did those BP officials after the Gulf Coast oil spill — before they were given the boot. And there are a host of questions still not answered by EPA officials — such as why was the EPA using heavy machinery in an area known to be filled with toxins. Why was the community not notified in a timely fashion. And who will compensate businesses along the route.

Remember the latter was a key requirement in the wake of the BP oil spill.

So where do the victims of the EPA’s incompetence go to have their lives and businesses made whole in the wake of this environmental disaster?

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