Already embroiled in an interstate clash of political titans over its recent carbon emissions regulations, the EPA found itself in damage control mode early this week.
During a routine clean-up of a century-old gold mine in southern Colorado, EPA workers mistakenly broke open a dam that forced contaminated sludge into the nearby Animas River.
EPA authorities estimate that as many as 3 million gallons of wastewater have rolled into the river prompting Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to declare a state of emergency.
Initial tests showed a spike in arsenic and lead in the water downstream in nearby towns that rely upon the river as a major source of drinking water.
The initial $500,000 tapped by the state to aide in remediation and clean-up may be paled by what the EPA could end up spending to save seal off the mine and repair its bruised public image.