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'I Cannot Shower, I Cannot Cook, I Cannot Do Anything' Says Woman Living On Animas River

DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4) - The Animas River in southwestern Colorado will remain closed at least another week after millions of gallons of mine waste spilled into the river.

The waste spilled out of a mine near Silverton last Wednesday and went downstream worrying communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

On Monday Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a disaster declaration which opens up $500,000 to assist businesses and towns affected by the spill that contains heavy metals including lead and arsenic.

Animas River, Aug 9
(credit: Angie Wingerd/Ignited Imagery) The Animas River at Bakers Bridge on Sunday afternoon shows changes in the color of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine blowout near Silverton. The water is cleared up to an extent since Thursday, when it was a deeper orange color from metals. The plume of contaminants has moved into Utah.

"I cannot shower, I cannot cook, I cannot do anything with the water from my water well," New Mexico resident Rosemary Hart said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency triggered the massive leak after a clean-up crew accidentally breached a debris dam in the Gold King Mine which has been closed since 1923. Since then the toxic spill has stretched more than 100 miles from Colorado through New Mexico and creeping closer to Utah.

(credit: CBS)

The EPA says that in the Durango area levels of lead increased around 3,500 times but dropped as the plume passed.

"Yes, those numbers are high and they are scary because they seem so high, however risk associated with exposure to the chemical is not just a matter of the toxicity of the chemical, it's also a matter of the exposure," Deborah McKean with the EPA said.

RELATED: Monday's Animas River Spill Timeline

It's unclear how much polluted water remains in the mine. For now the EPA has set up two containment ponds to treat the yellow sludge near the site of the spill.

The City of Durango has declared a state of local emergency.

The EPA says so far no human contamination has been reported, although several people who live along the Animas River reported water from their wells as being discolored.

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