EPA’s Data Indicate Post-Spill Metals Contamination in San Juan River [UPH Wire]

**The information is the same as the attached*
*For Immediate Release*
Friday, February 12, 2016
Donna Kemp Spangler
Communications Director
801.554.4944 (cell)

EPA’s Data Indicate Post-Spill Metals Contamination in San Juan River

SALT LAKE CITY (Feb. 12, 2016) — The Utah Department of Environmental
Quality (DEQ) recently discovered water sample results taken by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September and October 2015 that
showed elevated levels of metals. The information was found by Department
employees in a posting on the EPA’s website and had not been previously
shared with Utah officials.

The samples showed dissolved water concentrations of metals in the San Juan
River that exceeded Utah water quality criteria. This does not indicate a
threat to drinking water, recreation or livestock, based on an evaluation
of the data by the Utah Department of Health, Utah Department of
Agriculture and Food and Utah Department of Natural Resources.

“We are investigating to see if these metal concentrations were associated
with the recent Gold King incident, historical releases of metals from
abandoned mines, storm events or other unknown sources,” said Walt Baker,
director of the Division of Water Quality.

EPA data revealed several peaks in metal concentrations, including
aluminum, arsenic, copper, lead, and iron, that exceeded the highest
concentrations previously observed by DEQ in the San Juan River, including
samples collected immediately after the Aug. 5, 2015, mine release and
other data in long-term monitoring records.

To ensure the safety of Utah residents, DEQ is taking three initial steps:
· DEQ has sought additional information from the EPA regarding
these tests through a Freedom of Information Act inquiry for this
information. It is expected that the EPA will comply with this request.
· DEQ will immediately initiate a new round of water-quality
sampling on the San Juan River to determine whether the higher metal
concentrations persist.
· To assess possible water quality impacts from historic and future
metals releases from mines in the San Juan River watershed, the agency will
work to develop an appropriate long-term monitoring plan.

Summary data tables for DEQ water quality sampling, sediment sampling, and
EPA sampling are available at

*About DEQ*
Established in 1991, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ)
mission is to safeguard public health and quality of life by protecting and
enhancing the environment. DEQ implements state and federal environmental
laws and works with individuals, community groups and businesses to protect
the quality of Utah’s air, land and water. For more information, visit
www.deq.utah.gov, follow DEQ on Facebook (utahdeq
) and Twitter (UtahDEQ
), or call 1-800-458-0145.

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