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KSUT talks to La Plata County's Butch Knowlton about contaminated water spill


The Animas River has been closed to all watercraft as a smear of contaminated, bright yellow water makes its way downstream. The water is from a Wednesday spill at the Gold King Mine near Silverton.

A large spill of contaminated wastewater from a mine near Silverton has closed the the Animas River to watercraft indefinitely.

About one million gallons of water that had been held behind an earthen dam rushed into Cement Creek, and eventually the Animas River Wednesday. The sediment-heavy water is bright yellow or orange, and reported to be close to Durango this afternoon.

According to Knowlton, samples have been taken of the water, and test results that explain its composition should be released tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the La Plata County Sheriff's office has closed a large stretch of the Animas to all watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, and tubes, indefinitely.

EPA officials say the acidic mine water has high levels of metals and sediment.

County officials have set up a call center with more information, at 970-385-8700.

We'll have more news tomorrow morning on KSUT.