The governors of New Mexico and Colorado have declared disaster emergencies after three million gallons of contaminated waste water was mistakenly let into a river system.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are trying to fix the problem, which it initially estimated was only a one million gallon leak.
On August 5, EPA workers at the Gold King Mine accidentally let toxic water run down an abandoned tunnel, which turned the Animas River, near Durango, Colorado a brown colour.
The water is dissipating, however it is starting to move into neighbouring New Mexico, more than 160km away.
Lead, arsenic and other heavy metals are being blamed for turning the water the yellow colour, according to the local Colorado ABC News.
“We are aware that there are a number of old mines that have water dams similar to this, and we’re going to go back through them,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.
“People think about Colorado for our skies and our landscapes and our rushing rivers. They don’t want those rivers to be orange.”
Durango, Colorado: EPA’s Animas River mine disaster. Before & after : pic.twitter.com/Wi9g0I6Qr7
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) August 9, 2015
The EPA said it believes no wildlife is in “significant danger” because the sludge moved downstream so quickly.
Locals are advised to stay out of the water as the river has been closed.
More than 1000 wells may have been contaminated because of the spill and the EPA is testing them and meeting with local residents to tackle the problem.
Investigations into the health effects of the mustard coloured matter are ongoing, said the EPA.
— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice) August 7, 2015