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US waterways at risk from thousands of defunct mines lacking cleanup funds

Rivers at riskWhile crews begin the arduous task of cleaning up Colorado’s Animas River — where contamination by heavy metals and toxins leaked from an abandoned hard rock mine turning the water orange — thousands of other natural sites across the American West remain at risk from similarly hazardous defunct quarries.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates that there are currently 2,700 abandoned hard rock mines in need of environmental clean up. Nevada, nicknamed the “Silver State,” has the most, with an estimated 1,100 sites raising environmental concerns.

Abandoned mine lands by state:

California blaze explodes in size as wildfires roast West

california widlfires explode Wildfires are charging through several states in the parched West, scorching homes and forcing people to flee. Flames are plaguing some California residents, who had to evacuate for the second time in recent weeks after blazes exploded in size.

Here's a look at wildfires burning through Western states:


A Northern California blaze more than doubled in size overnight despite cooler temperatures and higher humidity.


Massive Mine Waste Spill Reaches New Mexico

Mine spillJust days after workers with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally spilled a million gallons of toxic mine waste into a Colorado waterway, the free-flowing sludge that turned portions of the state’s Animas River orange reached New Mexico, where health and wildlife officials say they were not alerted to any impending contamination.

As the cities of Aztec and Bloomfield scrambled to cut off the river’s access to water treatment plants, they criticized the EPA for what they said was a lackluster effort in providing warnings or answers about the spill. The contaminants seeping into the river—at a rate of 548 gallons per minute—include arsenic, copper, zinc, lead, aluminum and cadmium.


New wildfire erupts near destructive California blaze

California wildfiresA wildfire that broke out several miles southwest of a destructive fire in Northern California doubled in size overnight, charring nearly 8 square miles.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says evacuations have been ordered for the new fire that started Sunday. Containment was not in sight Monday morning.


Temperatures soar above 116°F in deadly Egypt heatwave

Egypt heat waveTwenty-one people have died and 66 others were hospitalised with exhaustion as soaring temperatures and high humidity hit Cairo and other parts of Egypt, the health ministry has said.

The victims, who all died on Sunday, succumbed as temperatures reached highs of 47 degrees Celsius, in conditions made less bearable by elevated humidity levels.


Climate fight shifts to courts

Climate changeStates, energy companies and business groups are preparing to sue the Obama administration over its new climate rule, viewing it as their bet shot at stopping the regulations while President Obama is still in office.

With Congress largely powerless to stop the rule, opponents of Obama’s push say the court system is their only hope at beating back the carbon limits until a new president takes over the Oval Office in 2017.


Animas River fouled by 1 million gallons of contaminated mine water

Animas RiverA spill that sent 1 million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River, turning the river orange, set off warnings Thursday that contaminants threaten water quality for those downstream.

The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed it triggered the spill while using heavy machinery to investigate pollutants at the Gold King Mine, north of Silverton.


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