Gold King Spill, Mining Prospects

Animas_RiverHugger_CC-e1439587777279-600x694

Contaminated Animus River following Gold King Mine spill.
Photo credit: RiverHugger/Creative Commons

Science and Politics of Mining (start time: 6:49)  On August 5 an inactive mine named Gold King, which had been leaking toxins for years, spewed more than 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into a creek that feeds into the Animus River in southwest Colorado. Its neon orange path of wastewater was shocking. But also shocking is the long history of acid mine drainage pollution and the lax regulations that allow mining companies to basically walk away from their disasters. Dr. Mark Williams, a professor of geography at CU Boulder, and an expert in mountain hydrology and hydrochemistry., has worked on remediation of several mines in the state. He speaks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about the anatomy of mines, how this disaster happened, what it suggests about the many other precarious mines in the state, and what should be done to prevent such disasters from happening.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Headline Contributors: Kendra Krueger, Joel Parker, Daniel Strain
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

Listen to the show:

Play
Share

Testing the Water

Mark Williams

Mark Williams, co-founder and director of the Colorado Water and Energy Research Center

Testing the Water (Start time 3:30) What exactly is in our water—the stuff we drink, shower in and use to wash our vegetables? This is a question lots of Coloradans have started to ask in the last few years as oil and gas operations have ramped up in the state. Several communities have become very concerned how nearby drilling operations might be adversely affecting the quality of their water supply. We’ve seen the videos of people living near to fracking wells lighting their tap water, and we’ve heard the stories about the possible health impacts but how much of this is anti-fracking dramatization and how much is there really to be concerned about?  How much is energy development in Colorado affecting the water supply and how can we, that is Jane and Joe public, find out the vital statistics of our water quality?

Co-host Jane Palmer discusses these questions with hydrologist Mark Williams from the University of Colorado. Williams is the co-founder of the Colorado Water and Energy Research Center (CWERC) and he has conducted projects around the state looking at the impacts of energy operations on both water and air quality.  He has also developed a guide to help residents who live near oil and gas development test their water. The “how to” guide shows well owners how energy-related or other activities might affect their groundwater.

Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Producer: Jane Palmer
Co-hosts: Jane Palmer, Ted Burnham
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender

Listen to the show:

Play
Share

State Climatologist // Water Contamination

Nolan Doesken

Feature #1: (start time 5:09)  Did you know that Colorado, and for that matter most states, have their own “state climatologist” – an expert who keeps tabs on the changing climate and its impacts in the state. In Colorado’s case it’s Nolan Doesken. He’s based out of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. Mr. Doesken also heads a nationwide citizen-science project called the  Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews Mr. Doesken about the network, as well as a recently released Colorado River Basin Water Supply & Demand Study, which suggests we’ll be thirstier and thirstier in the future.

Mark Williams sampling a groundwater well near Buena Vista.

Feature #2: (start time 16:00) Water is such an essential — perhaps the essential — resource for life that it is considered as a key ingredient for life anywhere in the universe. No surprise, then, that it has become a battleground, especially in the Western states like Colorado that are dealing with drought conditions and higher demand for clean water to support a ever-increasing population. Dr. Mark Williams, professor of geography at CU Boulder talks with co-host Joel Parker about his research into the environmental and human health impacts of energy development and mining on the quality of water in our aquifers.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran|
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

 (Click below to play audio.)

This show was featured January 7th 2013 by Science 360 Radio

Play
Share

Support KGNU


How On Earth is produced by a small group of volunteers at the studios of KGNU, an independent community radio station in the Boulder-Denver metro area. KGNU is supported by the generosity and efforts of community members like you. Visit kgnu.org to learn more.

Podcast

Subscribe via iTunes
 
How On Earth episodes can be downloaded as podcasts via iTunes, or streamed to a mobile device via Stitcher or Science360 Radio.
 
Listen on Stitcher
 
Listen on Science360 Radio
 
For more info about podcasting, and more subscription options, visit our Podcast page.