Contaminated River: Colorado Mine Spill

Three million gallons of water contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins spilled out of Colorado’s Gold King Mine, turning the Animas River a mustard colour and contaminating waterways.

Contaminated water flows from the Gold King Mine on August 5. The water is yellow because it carries dissolved pyrite, otherwise known as fool’s gold or iron sulphide, according to KUNC. When the dissolved pyrite hits air, it forms sulphuric acid. The acid then eats through the rock in the mine, dissolving out heavy metals like zinc and lead.

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