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Colorado Mine Spill 3 Times Larger Than Believed, Feds Say

Colorado Mine Spill 3 Times Larger Than Believed, Feds Say

The yellow plume of contaminated wastewater that spilled from an abandoned Colorado mine and flowed downstream toward two other states is three times larger than originally estimated, federal officials say.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used better measurements to find that 3 million gallons of wastewater laced with heavy metals, including lead and arsenic, spilled from the Gold King Mine and turned the Animas River a mustard yellow last week. The agency initially estimated 1 million gallons escaped.

The EPA has so far been unable to determine whether humans or aquatic life face health risks from the pollution, but an agency official said Sunday that she doesn't believe wildlife is in great danger.

The sludge moved so quickly that it would not have "caused significant health effects" to animals that consumed the water, EPA toxicologist Deborah McKean said.

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