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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 14, 2015 7:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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at this point where we have to d have this hearing because nobody, like the chairman said,h there is probably a lack of transparency, and i think a lack of forthrightfulness here. mr. stanislaus, has epa actuated the money cost to this spill? >> at this moment, we've ? expended about $8 million of direct response cause. >> how about mr. benn, as far a the navajos, what he's asking$8 for. have you factored that cost inte your figures? >> well, we have begun to pay response cost by those who havew asked local governments.el we're going to do that separately. we're going to be working through that process and completing the process within six >> thank you mr. abraham, the gentleman from colorado is
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recognized for his questions. >> okay. thank you. i'd like to welcome my fellow e coloradans to washington, d.c.,, gentlemen, thank you for your testimony, all of you, thank you for your testimony today. t part of this is i feel like, you know, we're in the early stages of litigation, and i, the chairman, i think, maybe a frustrated litigator wanting to figure out who was negligent, who wasn't negligent, who's responsible for this, what happened. appreciate the fact that the epa got to the department of health in colorado quickly, who got to durango, quickly. to share this. there apparently was some breakdown in communication getting to the navajo nation.
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a court is going to figure out o exactly what happened, when it happened, should it have happened, dr. williamson, but i'd like to ask some other questions, because i think dr. a benn, you suggested some things that the epa should consider inn the short term and in the long term, one was help you with some monitoring devices to keep an eye on things. help the farmers and ranchers who may have been impacted. am i right about that? >> yes, sir. there's only discussion as a nation right now. within your, your own nation. you're not talking to the epa.
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yes, sir. okay, i asked that badly. so, you're, is the nation speaking to the epa about potential ways that the epa and the united states could help the nation? >> as i explained to you, this whole situation can be tackled all at once. that there's three parts. there's the spill. the reaction to the spill and the coordination, the collaboration with epa. we're in that stage right now. they are working with us, but to a certain degree. >> i'd like to have the first
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slide, showing where the gold king mine is. the other one, sorry. can you describe the area where this gold king mine is and approximately how many mines are in the silverton complex? which i think you know, range at least in the hundreds if not the thousands. >> response to your first point, the te rain is mountainous, for sure. southwestern colorado. it's a mining district. it's fairly disburspursed and widespread. i couldn't really tell you. >> approximately when did the mining start in this area? >> perhaps 130 years ago, give or take. >> and mayor, do you know how many mines are in the complex
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above durango? >> in my written testimony, i have a little diagram of the mines. there's hundreds of mines in and around that, the, that particular basin. as well as that's cement creek. mineral creek and the other side of the mountain is the animus river. they all feed in as they come through. but in that basin, there's virtually in all, there's over 5,000 mine shafts at its tunnels and prospects in the drainage. >> in colorado, we have many more. i represented a company with another troubled mine with a big release and we built some new treatment facilities and the like, so, if we go to that other picture that was up there for a moment of exactly where this gold king mine is.
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and the terrain right there. so t other one. in preparing for this, this had been, there had been a release, a slow leakage f you will, in a couple of hundred gallons per minute as opposed to three million gallons in a very short period, but over time, there's a lot of liquid, there was a lot of liquid released and mayor, i think he said like 300 million gallons per year or something like that. >> so, just for illustrative purpose, 3 million gallon, which was leased in that august 5th and august 6th time frame, versus 300 million gallons. per year. so, we have a lot of work to be done. with a lot of mines in the state of colorado.
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my question is if the epa or some federal agency doesn't help with this, who does? >> so, we're called to address mining sights around the country. that's only a small subset of mines so we get involve and do the work that we've been doing on this and orr mines around the country. clearly, i believe there are 23,000 in kcolorado. hundreds of thousands around the country and that's split between several other agencies and states. >> thank you, your time has expired. the gentleman from ohio is recognize. >> thank you, mr. chairman. could i get the first slide, please?
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this is the public website where epa has been releasing information about the gold king mine spill, including videos captured by contractors that show it as it happens. according to the website and i want you to look on the far right hand side there, epa removed profanity contained in the audio of the videos and obscured visible license plates for privacy purposes. it ends with this. epa did not edit the videos in any other way, so, first question for you. is the statement i just read from epa's website accurate? >> it is. >> great. do you have any reason to believe it isn't? >> i do not. >> here is video footage of the gold king mine blowout that was obtained by the science committee. let's have video one. >> really high.
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going to go close it up? >> the next video is same footage that epa posted on its website, but the last few seconds of the audio has been removed to prevent the viewers from hearing the team on the ground saying what do we do now? let's have the second video. >> we're digging really high. is he going tog close it up? [ bleep ]
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. >> so, you said that you had no reason to believe that the epa's website had been altered, i'm just giving you reasons because evidence is there. the before video and the one you posted on the website. >> why did the epa have audio of the team on the ground say whag do we do now? got any idea? >> i do not and epa provided -- >> that's good enough. after seeing both videos, do you think epa's website is misleading to the american public? >> i can't tell at this moment. >> what do you mean you can't? you just saw two videos. one that had it, one that doesn't. one that was clear and open, one that was posted by the epa. how can you not tell? >> i would need to compare -- >> you just got a comparison.
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>> what the area staff and epa -- >> the epa apparently had an on scene coordinator on the ground. is the on scene coordinator the one in the video who says what do we do snou. >> i don't know that information at this moment. >> epa did not release videos of the incident for a month after the spill. a month. how long did epa know about video footage of the incident before it disclosed the videos to congress and american people? >> my understand was the video was provided as soon as possible. >> a month? >> i don't know when epa obtained access. we can get back to you on the time frame. >> this is another video of the spill after the toxic water was moving more rapidly. go to video number three.
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so, if the epa had known the answer to the question in the previous video, what do we do now? is it possible that epa's response would have been better and prevented the water from escaping the mine? could we stop this rush? >> all i know at this moment is what is contain ed in the internal review and what the review concluded that the risk of a blowout was identified as possible by both the state of colorado, epa. >> good. given the risk was identified, epa had every reason to believe that a blowout was possible. were they prepared to properly respond to an environmentally
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event of this magnitude? >> again -- >> it's an easy answer because we got 3 million gallons of toxic water that ran into the river. were they adequately prepared? >> so, because of that risk -- >> or no. >> i need to answer that question, because of that risk, they put in place specific plans -- >> but they didn't execute their plans. >> so, in the work plan, so, whole point was to carefully remove the rock build up and then remove the water. it's part of the investigation. the team also concluded that the emergency response component of the plan did not include the worst case scenario of a low belowout and that's something i committed to to make sure that happens. >> according to news reports, they failed to notify officials for 24 hours after the spill. they did not have a plan to deal with an environmental event of
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this magnitude and what do they do now. mr. chairman, i got lots more that i could talk about, but my time is expired. >> thank you. recognized for his question. >> thank you, mr. chairman. with respect and in the spirit of fairness, i want to say i reject to an accusatory title of the hearing, holding the epa accountable. i think it's been clear ha the epa was far from the first mover of the waste water and it's an untenable stretch to say they are solely responsible for the spill. it makes no sense to compare deepwater horizon to this spill. there's tens of thousand, perhaps millions of difference in order of size and impact. epa was only at the sight because it was concerned about the problem of contaminated waste water release, blaming the
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epa is like blaming firefighters for the forest fighter. 3 million gallons are released every week, year in and year out. i'm very concerned about what dr. ben is talking about, the impack on the navajo nation. those gray and black releases that the mayor talked about. on the call for accountability, we've heard this the there's 25000 pages up on the internet and i've yet to hear any resistance about not coming forward and yet, to hear a dwipgs of what the e prk a is somehow witt holding. we want to hold people responsible, but seems to me that they're doing their best to come forward. we two years ago, peter butler, the koocoordinator, appeared in video that highlighted the mines. i'd like to ask it be shown now.
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>> we're here at the mine in upper creek. the mine in 2000, only put out maybe 15, 17 gallons per minute of acid line drain, which was not very metal layden and now, we have a drain nlg of about 300 gallons per minute. it's loaded with metals and you can see it coming down here in fropt of us. back in 1996, a head was put in the american tunnel and later in about 2002, there were two more put in the tunnel farther out near the surface. it was part of an agreement between the mining company and the state of colorado regulators. and at the time that raised the water table and it's believed that because there's a higher
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water table, that's why we have all this drainage now coming and this is untreated drainage. it flows into the cement creek and goes down into the animus. we can see the metal loading from this site down to baker's bridge. >> how many miles away? >> 45, 50 miles. >> you think it's had any effect on aquatic life? >> the four sites up here, this is the biggest amount of water, have clearly impacted the animus river down in the canyon. we've done fish surveys and bug analysis down in the canyon. from cascade creek up to elk park an clearly, there's been a major decline in the number of species and the amount of species. >> the american tunnel used to drain about 1600 gallons per minute.
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american tunnel was an access t.o. sunny side mine, the largest mine in the silvertonya. that the mining company stopped mining in 1991 and they were treating that 1600 gallons per minute and doing a good job of it. up until this consent decree, where as they were allowed to put bulkheads into the american tunnel and then get a number of other projects to try to off set metals that might pop out. they back in 2002, they had fulfilled the agreements of the decree and the state signed off on it. after that, probably around 2003, 2004, we started seeing a lot more drainage come out of these mines in upper cement
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creek. the four main mines we've seen drainage increases, there's always some residual at the american tunnel and then there's also increased drainages coming out of the red which is here and the gold king number seven level an the local mine. all together, the increase in drainage varies a little bit that time of year, but it's about 600 to 800 gallons per minute which is untreated. that's probably the largest amount of untreated acid line drainage in the state of colorado at this time. almost anywhere else that has that much of a drainage has a treatment plan. we're undergoing efforts to try to figure out a solution for cooperative solution to try to mitigate and reduce the amount of metals coming out of these drainages. this area, potentially could be a super site, the e prk a thinks it has the criteria, but there's not a lot of local support for a super fund site. therefore, we are doing this
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collaborative process instead of going regulatory process at this time. >> thank you for letting me go a few seconds over. >> e thayou have a question, we make acknowledge you for 30 seconds. okay. the gentlewoman from virginia. i'm sorry, from arkansas is recognized for his question. >> i have with me, a copy of the action work plan. who prepared this document? >> that is traly prepared by our response manager.
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>> between the unseen coordinator as well as the response manager and those two, the osc, on scene coordinator would traditionally sign off on it as accepted. the response manager as well as the usepa on scene coordinator. >> so, were professional services employed used in preparation of this work plan? >> we work off the data provided us within the task order as well as any other data provided by the federal on scene koord thater at the time of the task order. >> who was qualified to prepare
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this claim? >> the engineering component would have been the actual structural design and insulation of theas the completion of the tunnel work and that would have been subcontracted to a specialized subcontractor already on contract and ready for us to initiate the work. there was one who came in subsequent to do the engineering, the restoration work after that claim was submitted. >> so, were there engineering design documents, drawings or speck spesifications? i don't know the answer to that. as far as the actual construction page, i don't know. >> so, were you involved in this project? >> no. not directly, no. >> would it not be normal
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practice if somebody's doing the work they would have specifications? >> the work plan again, it's more of a timing issue, i believe. that plan would have been turned in within say 30 days or so. 60 days. it varies depending on what the federal osc wants and it's the preliminary approach. the way our contracts work is we're giving a set of technical directions and we define an operational approach to meat that direction, so that was a plan saying here's how we're going to get there. it mentions we're going hire a confident contractor to do that work. but it doesn't define who because it hasn't be procured yet. >> hasn't said anything about hiring anybody for professional services. it does talk about subcontractors. this document was provided, on the epa website.
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and it's got, it lists three attachments that weren't included in this document, which i think would be pertinent to the document. what was the total cost of this project? >> i do not have that information. i can get it for you. >> then the schedule wasn't included. the time frame of the schedule. >> i believe the schedule, the safety plan and the cost with attachments and my understanding was that we did turn those over. minus the cost was redacted for confidentiality reasons. >> i think that's pertinent to the issue in that my question is was there adequate cost and adequate time allowed to do this job properly? >> certainly, yes. >> why woul that be redacted
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out? >> it was confidential business information that was redacted. >> also not included in the document is a bill from safety plan. was there a bill for safety plan? >> yes, there is and again, the understanding was that it was released, i don't understand why you didn't have access to it. >> okay, so, we're not sure how many design engineering was done on this project and if the people who approved the work plan were qualified to approve that. there's obviously a lack of planning that went into this because of the spill that occurred, but is there a, is this common practice? >> is what common practice? >> to prepares these plans without professional services? >> clearly, there's a whole
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sequence of beginning with the request of proposal, which identified the specific circumstance and risk. what the review team found was the expertise in colorado, the epa, the right expertise, the mining expertise was in place, they had planned to execute that and review report goes through how that report, how the plan -- >> most laws, most states have laws that say you can't do this type of work without a professional in charge of the work. so, does epa exempt following state laws on professional services for these type services? >> all the appropriate professionals for this job and the, our review team found that the expertise for doing a job like that, was in place. on this project team. both the epa and the state of
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colorado and the contract. >> and the gentleman's time has expired. >> the gentleman from california is recognized. >> just want to get back to proportionalty. three million, three million gallons in one and a half days was visible at orange oxide in the water four miles adjacent to this mine. but 300 gallons i understand flow of waste that wasn't visible. was not captured in the visual. that's why we have this visual. so, i find it curious this committee is focusing on this and spending hours and hours and hours of time trying to figure out in the wrong venue, it should be a court of law figuring out the liability. we're jumping to conclusions and even the title, which is
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misleading. when we should be talking about this. and in the spirit of that, i would like to yield my time to the gentleman from colorado to continue his questions. >> thank you. if the committee would allow me to go forward. just for a minute, for a couple of seconds. i can't wait to use the gentleman's arguments the next time a private company dumps millions of gallons of toxic water into a pure river and thank you for yielding and the gentleman from colorado will be recognized. >> thank you, mr. chair. i think you've hit ton key point here, which is as dr. williamson said, we've got thousands of miles in colorado, many abandoned, many properly closed with all sorts of issues.
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at some point, we've got to address them. we've had lakes collapse into mine shafts causing huge releases down the animus river and the san juan and into the navajo nation. back to basics here. so, the e prk a started working on this at least with the stakeholder group and its professionals in 2014. did it not? >> yeah, slightly before. >> so, you worked with affected individuals. to try to figure out what to do to minimize that 300 million gallons that was being released into a river that runs right through the heart of durango and into the navajo nation. is that correct? >> correct. >> in so doing, you contracted with the private sector to do the correction and remediation work that the professionals felt was appropriate. did you not?
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>> that's correct. >> was you and your company. true? >> that's correct. and listening to your testimony, you've done some 1300 similar kinds of tasks for the epa and i think you're testimony was 10,000 for other agencies and the private sector. >> that's correct. >> the kind of work you do, it can be dangerous. isn't that true? >> that's also correct. >> and it can be complex. >> that's correct. >> can you describe, how would you describe all of the tunnels that you're dealing with in this silverton complex or mining district when you were working on the gold king mine. >> obviously, very complex. >> and so, the chairman started off his testimony, his statement saying well, would a prudent person undertake this? well, one prudent person, probably not.
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but when 300 million gallons a year are coming in to a beautiful river, where into a city that prides itself on being very outdoors and very health conscious, should the united states and should the state of colorado even though it may not be prudent, try to undertake to fix something like that? mr. green, what would you say? >> we address many, many task orders on behalf of the e prk a. the basis for each one. >> in your experience, does the epa, does the division of reclamation in colorado do other agencies try to undertake to mitigate against a constant release like this 300 million gallons. >> excuse me, yes, sir, in my
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experience, yes, they try to off set the sustained. >> at some point, my guess is -- trial or you've advised in the past. and hopefully, all the things that you've worked on have gone well. but this is complex and dangerous kind of work, is it not? >> i would agree that it is, yes. >> i thank you mr. takano for giving me time. i thank all of you for being here. there's no real bad guy. we're trying to fix something that's been 100 years in the making and we've got a lot of these in colorado and we need some help with treatment plants in silverton, they need it on the navajo nation. this is a responsibility we have as a nation. thank you. >> thank you. the gentleman from michigan is recognized for his questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to address these mr. stanslaus. i wanted to ask you what lessons that you and the epa have
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learned from this incident, this experience. >> sure. so far, we've identified that we need to enhance the process working state and local governments. i issued a memo to that regard in an event like this, which potentially has broad potential impact. the review team also identified that there were a number of things we could do, an operation going forward. looking at investigating with the private sector potential of remote sensing tools so identify pressurized situation where it's technically and from a safety perspective, is really difficult to put a drill pad like it was in this location. incorporating worst case scenarios in an emergency response planning. but fs an ongoing lesson learneded. we learn lessons from the
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thousands of sites we get engaged in around the country. >> in terms of overall cost of this, somebody had mentioned maybe 8 million is what has been spent so far. is that accurate? >> that is right. it's $8 million the response cost so far. and do you anticipate additional costs beyond that? >> certainly some additional cos costs. i don't know what that estimate is. still going to be ongoing monitoring and we'll continue to work with all of the stake holders to continue that monitoring ch other kinds of elements that will accommodate this stake holders requests. >> where codo you get the funds for that? is it from other programs that are of lesser priority that you'd shift within the epa budget? where would you get that fund something. >> the budget in all the federal budget is fairly regimented. we have a fixed part of resources for super fund, kind of emergency response and
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removals and what we do is really prioritize. clearly, there are priorities that come up, we need to respond to emergencies and prioritize that as we go forward. it's a tight budget and we've got declining resources over the years. >> so, it would come out of the super fund budget projects that lesser priorities would kind of go to the bottom of that list and you would move that to this? >> yeah, we have a pot of money, to make ourselves available to respond to emergencies on a regular basis. we use that pot of money. >> and what -- i have not heard, has epa, obviously has taken responsibility for this. but has epa acknowledged mistakes that were made that you know, for instance, there's always this comparison. how would you treat a private actor if they were in this
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situation? you were conducting the operations, but then you were also responsible for any penalties. would you treat a private actor differently? is there a conflict of interest here? >> we ask demand the responsible party is to immediately go forward. expend resources, collect data immediately, analyze that data. provide water supplies as an example and we would have priced the unified command structure, so that is identical. we would demand transparency and i believe we are identically in transparency. very forward leaning on transparency. in terms of long-term, we're still in the midst of investiga investigating. i ask for internal review and
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the administrator asks to quickly identify, how should inform other sides immediately. we also, there are two other independent investigations. so, we should have the department of interiors roughly from what is 60 days from the time it started. i'm guessing it's about 40 days and the office of inspegter general is also conducting. we're going to see all of what identified there. so, again, you know, i have responsibility for the clean up of the sites around the country and we work with communities to protect public health and safety from the legacy of these sites. if there are lessons learned, you know, and if there are ways of holding people accountable, holding ourselves accountable, we h certainly look at this. >> do you think it would be a -- >> gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> gentleman from california.
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>> thank you, chair and you know, to the people of the communities affected, i do, i share in my thoughts, my concerns, that was a tragedy. and to me, it seems like it's inherently dangerous work. when you're dealing with mines. it's dangerous for the epa, for the contractors, and it's awful when anything like this happens and i don't agree with the name of the hearing, mr. chairman, but i do agree with the right to have a hearing about something that involves an important government agency. in my experience, these types of incidents will take some time to thoroughly be investigated and you know, hopefully, we get to the bottom of it and i think this is a part of that process. i just have a few questions first. is it contemplated that there
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could be a breach of contract or litigation brought against the contractor or subcontractors involved? is that possible going forward? >> well, again, we are going to evaluate the two other reports that are coming down. we're going to have to evaluate more of this specific facts. we have one independent review and you know, it speaks for itself that there was proper planning, the work plan seemed to be executed there or more that could be done in the future. that's where we are. >> and mr. green, that's not a comment. one way or the other on your work, but i want to highlight just to my colleagues on the other side, it seems that if there is a right of action available against a private actor, that that is something that is possible. is that right? >> that is right. >> with that in mind, i would like to yield the rest of my time. i think it's important for the member most closely afgted by this, to continue to have questions if he wishes.
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mr. chair, the gentleman from colorado, i'd like to yield to him if possible. >> i thank my friend from california. mayor, you did mention the good samaritan bill proposed by senators and i think congressman tipton. which i generally support, but in this instance, it wouldn't have helped. we were working on a mine and there was a major release. >> that's correct. >> so, in the connection with the $8 million that the epa has spent so far, what has been done for the town of durango, if anything, with that $8 million? can you tell us? >> we have submitted what will be next week submitting an invoice to the epa for direct
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costs soassociated with emergen response. loss of sales of water in our case. and the number of other direct costs to the city. obviously, the business committee will be submitted via the form 95s for any loss of business. white water rafters, hotels, any of the public business, private businesses that would have a claim. for loss of income. and loss of business. >> okay, the $8 million and i know there was a previous question. what of that 8 million, explain the mitigation that took place after the release and how you know, protecting the life and limb of your contractors and of your own personnel and what you've done to slow down this release. >> sure. >> after the release, we diverted the water so it could be treated so we have treatment farms diverting and treating the
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water. we believe we're capturing about 90% of the metals. described in the video where your untreated water. we still have more to do in terms of a long-term solution. that is why silverton having that discussion. >> let me ask this question. congressman buyer showed us, there was a discussion of making the silverton mining district of at least these mines, put them on the national priorities list and make them part of a super funds site. how would that affect your ability to pay for new treatment plan plants for the area, can you explain? >> sure. by being listed ton national priorities list, it makes that site eligible for a permanent, long-term solution, so in mining sites like this, one of the fundamental things that are done is a permanent water treatment system to handle the volume and will reduce all the
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contaminants, in this case, metals, before it entered into the rivers. >> thank you and i thank my friend from california. >> i yield back. >> the gentleman from texas is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. appreciate that. mr. stanislaus, during a spill, president obama came out and visited the region. but he did not visit the site or meet with those who were affected by this spill. the epa request that president obama not visit the spill site? >> well, all i can tell you is that ep shifted into emergency response. that personnel working emergency response were local stake holders, minister mccarthy did visit the area, met with local stake holders and wanted to make sure emergency response is well managed. >> again, i think as someone mentioned early, i think it's ironic that she's not here today
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either. does it surprise you that president obama visited the area, but did not come to the site or visit the folks affected as the navajos were? >> all i can tell you is that from where i sit, we want to make sure the emergency response is in place. we did that and unified command had the local government, states and tribes involved, administrator mccarthy did visit the local communities, visit the navajo while she was there to gauge how the response was going and how we could be of assistance. >> let me ask you this. what was the relationship between the epa and the environmental restoration llc staff on site conducting work? at this particular mine. >> well, they are a contractor. who pursuant to request put in place a work plan to deal, to address the work at this site. epa oversees the work by the
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contractor. >> does the epa specify what exact work will be conducted? in each step of the work? >> well, it's kind of a -- >> it is a sequential process, so we issue a customer proposal, detailing the particular circumstance wed like to contractor to address. we ask the contractor respond to that work plan and there are other additional implementation kind of documents. >> well, i just, i want to know if this epa have the final decision making authority on this site? >> absolutely. >> did environmental restlation llc ever raise any concerns regarding the work to be conducted? we've seen some videos today wheich alluded to that possibility. the environmental restoration, did they ever raise a red flag? >> well, what i am aware of is we raised the issue of the
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particular circumstance at the gold king mine. we in the state of colorado, that's the reason why we were there. and it's to deal with the particular circumstance. particular circumstance came in at the gold king mine area, the water seeping. situation, we're also addressing the mine beneath that. >> the cave in was -- >> it is a preexisting condition and going back over a decade or so, initially the state of colorado worked with the mining operator to deal with the saver in swag, to deal with the water emitting from the complex of mines. so, that had been going on for years. they've addressed some of the cave man. we got involved around 2014 to deal specifically with the red
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bonita and the gold king mine. >> who were operators, who were the folks operating the machinery that day? were they epa employs or environmental restoration employees? >> they were subcontractors. i don't have those individuals names in front of me. >> but i just want to know who they work for. >> they work for epa. absolutely. >> epa employees. >> no, no, they were contractors. subcontractors. >> not with environmental restoration. >> typical jobs like this, you have a prime contractor and you bring a particular expeer per tees, the sub kroter you're referring to had a particular ek per tees in mining operations. >> very unfortunate thing to happen and it brings to mind a -- into a local river and
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would you describe fined $15,000 for some folks. i'd like to see some responsibility shoulders by the epa here and i'm very disturbed that it took 24 hours to -- the folks down river of the spill even occurring. don't you think -- >> again in my opening statement, it was immediate notification between us and the state except for the -- plan for notification, but i also agree an incident like this, broader notification an tribes to make sure everyone is aware. before any of the impact -- >> absolutely very rapidly. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> and the gentleman from alabama is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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mr. stanislaus, there was an article in the associated press on august 20th in which -- the contamination levels are pretty series. yet the epa says that the contamination levels were returning to prespill levels. and no longer threatened the rivers. do you agree with that? is that the epa's position? >> the epa put in place an aggressive data program working with everyone in unified command, that includes the state, the tribes and all the local governments. we then went through a lavatory process and then compared that to preexisting levels and made a judgment once we achieved a
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preexisting levels, we communicated that in unified command and then the local governments made a decision about reopening the river.reope river. >> the ap article also said they made repeated requests to e approximaepa so they could compare that to current contamination levels. the epa at the time of the article had failed to respond to that request. >> was it on your website around august 15th to 20th timeframe? was it there then? >> yeah, i don't have the article in front of me.
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i don't know what particular time frame they were talking about. >> the article was on august 20th. >> as soon as we could collect and process the data, we posted it on our website. clearly, there was a laboratory process particularly with metals. takes time to analyze that, but as soon as we had that data available we not only propooste on press, but we communicated with state, local, and tribal officials. >> are you satisfied with contamination levels that are currently in the river? is that consistent with what you require from private companies in terms of wastewater discharge? >> well, what we addressed was whether the river -- however the river and stake holder group and others in the state of colorado
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had long recognized there was a whole load of contaminants going into the river. i was there last week to examine the possibility of a long-term solution through a super fund potential listing. >> but you've approved it for recreation recreational use again based on your analysis of the contaminants in the river. yet other health agencies have advised people not to drink the water and not to come in contact with the soil. that seems, to me, to be inconsistent with a water source being ready for recreational use. here's the problem i've got with this -- and the epa plays an important role. i've been a vocal critic of the epa. there appears to be a double
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standard. if this was a private company, i don't think the epa would share the same optimism if this had been a private company. i don't think the epa would have handled them the same way the epa has handled itself. in regard to mr. johnson's video and the obvious alterations to the video, i think it's problematic that the epa is not doing the due diligence and investigating this the way they would if it were a private company. mr. babin mentioned a rancher in texas. there's a guy, i think, in wyoming who built a pond and they're fining him $30,000 a day. i see a real problem here with the way the epa handles this and everything's fine, look the
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other way, there's nothing going on here, but you wouldn't do the same thing if it were a private company. you would destroy the company. >> from our transparency and taking responsibility with the spill, we have done -- i take that responsibility very seriously. i want to make sure -- because communities and states ask us to be involved. i want to make sure work is done because ultimately we all want to address the conditions that resulted in local communities asking us for assistance. >> that's what we want for durango and the navajo nation. it appears to me, mr. chairman, there is a double standard. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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dr. ben, the epa triggered a spill that has done damage to the navajo nation. they then took the lead in the aftermath of the spill, and now they are investigating themselves. this seems like a clear conflict of interest. does this concern you? >> yes, it is a clear conflict of interest, and we have approached officials about trying to figure out if we can actually have somebody appointed other than the epa to do the investigation. >> do you believe that the epa will hold itself accountable? earlier, we saw a video from representative bill johnson from ohio. he had a video, and it indicated that maybe the epa might not be
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totally forthright in how they're presenting themselves in this matter. is this of concern that maybe the damages might not all be prevalent because they're investigating themselves? >> well, just to be clear about how they communicated information to us from the beginning, it was -- it wasn't until 24 hours later that they let us know what happened. and at the same time when they did let us know, it was -- it wasn't really them that told us about what happened. it was actually the state of new mexico that approached us and told us about all this information. >> it appears cynthia coffman, colorado's attorney general, called for an independent review of this matter. are you aware of that? >> no, i'm not aware of that.
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>> that indicates that's her intention. in your testimony, you state -- is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> you further stated that it appeared that your visit to the mine site it was the first time an epa region official had visited the location. is that to your recollection? >> yes. we were actually one of the first ones up there. there wasn't too many other jurisdictions that had access to it. we kind of bogarted our way up there because epa told us the water was clear. >> right. >> and we wanted to make sure. when we got up there, obviously it wasn't. >> that was my next question here. you noted that yellow water was still exiting the mine at the time of your visit. can you tell us a little bit more about what you saw in regards to the water still
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exiting the mine? >> it was still mustard orange, and we did see where they had put in the ponds. then we saw how they were treating it with sodium hydroxide and a flocculent that captures the metals. >> this was all coming out of the mine at the time? >> yes, sir. >> this is a question for my good friend from new mexico, steve pierce. he says in new mexico about 60% of the total surface water is in this water shed. the navajo nation is at ground zero as well. mr. stanilaus, is the problem
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going to be cleaned up in new mexico? >> yes. so we have worked with the state of new mexico and other states and the navajo nation. we have provided the data. we have concluded the data has proved it has been restored to previous spill conditions. as i identified in my opening statement, there is a load from a lot of mines about 330 million gallons per year. the animus river has identified that concern as well as the state of colorado as their need for a long-term solution. >> can me friend go home and tell his constituents that the drinking water is safe? can he do that in good conscious right now? >> yes. what we have communicated with the state of new mexico is that
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the water has returned to pre-incident conditions. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. we have no other members with questions, so let me thank all of our expert witnesses today for their testimony. this has been a very informative hearing. i think you have heard from members on both sides of the aisle. looking forward to the conclusion of the investigation because we do want someone to be held accountable and we want the epa to take responsibility. thank you all and we are adjourned. earlier today, astronauts mark kelly and terry virts discussed ongoing nasa missions and research, including the mars mission. mr. kelly talked about nasa's
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study of himself and twin, scott kelly. this is about an hour. well, good morning, everybody. welcome to the national press club. my name is john hughes. i'm an editor at bloomberg first word. that's bloomberg's breaking news desk here in washington, and i am the president of the national press club. we have a historic day here in the national press club. our guest live via video link from the nsinternational space station is scott kelly. here at the table is mark kelly and terry virts. from the audience's right, david shepardson, washington bureau
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chief for the detroit news. robert kunz. frank mooring jr., senior editor. the washington bureau chief for the buffalo news and current chairman of the speakers' committee. senior vice president for business wires public policy wire and the press club member who organized this morning's breakfast. thank you, danny. a european space agency astronaut. bureau chief for the news agency of russia. vice president of advocacy and public affairs for the association of unmanned vehicle systems international and a
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national press club board member. welcome to you all. [ applause ] i also want to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences and our live audiences watching around the world on the internet. you can follow the action on twitter. use the hash tag nbc live. that's #npclive on twitter. 100 years ago, one of the first transcontinental telephone calls was made from the national press club. it marked the first time that a high-ranking u.s. official was photographed at the national press club because it was then secretary of state william jennings bryan who made that historic call to san francisco. earlier this year, vince surf, who gave a speech here and has been doing some work for nasa, asked the question what would be
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the 2015 equivalent of that 1915 phone call. well, some conversations that resulted from that question and some cooperation from nasa led us here for another first for the nationshtional press club, press conference, live messaging going up to space. it's a historic day. it raises the question for the national press club president of 2015, who are you going to call and how far away are you going to reach. it's very fascinating that we're here today, and i want to remind you all that our astronaut in space is scott kelly. kelly went to the space station in may to begin a 342-day stint there. sorry, it was march, not may. this was his brother who corrected me. this will be the longest ever
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stint by a u.s. astronaut. as of today, he is just under the halfway point to making history. here on the ground we have scott's twin brother, a retired nasa astronaut, captain mark kelly. he's undergoing a study with his brother to determine the effects of long duration space flights on the human body. we also have here on earth air force colonel terry virts, who was the most recent nasa astronaut to return from the international space station. i expect in a minute we'll be hearing from the international space station. what are you going to say to your brother if you're able to send a message to him this morning? >> so you want me to say it twice? we should wait until we have him on the screen. >> we'll be surprised. >> no, i talked to him yesterday.
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we've kind of caught up a little bit on what's been going on. there's a phone on the space station for folks that don't know that. it's kind of like an internet call. there he is in space. >> hey, scott. >> scott, can you hear us? >> this is houston. are you ready for the event? >> i'm ready for the event. >> national press club, this is mission control houston. please call station for voice check. >> station, this is national press club. how do you hear me? >> i have you loud and clear. welcome aboard the space station. >> welcome. thanks for joining us, scott. we have a full room here. i know it's around lunchtime up there. we just had breakfast. could you tell us what you're doing today? >> yeah, well, first of all, it's great to be here with you guys today. yeah, i know you're having breakfast because both my
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brother and terry virts there sent me pictures of their food. i guess they're trying to make me feel bad about what we have to eat up here. but today's actually a day off for us because we had some crew members departing late last week, so today is actually a free day. >> and what do you do on your day off on the international space station? >> you know, we have a lot of work up here with over 400 different science experiments going on throughout the year i'm here. we do a lot of work on the different systems that keep us alive, so mostly on the day off it's a time to rest and recover from a very hectic schedule. i generally take a lot of pictures of the earth, do e-mail, maybe watch something on tv. yesterday we were watching the texans game and the broncos game
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later, so that was nice. >> so you're about halfway to your yearlong goal. how do you feel? what effects have microgravity had on you so far in this almost six-month period? >> yeah. so i feel pretty good overall. i definitely recognize that i've been up here a long time and have just as long ahead of me, but i feel positive about it. i think if i manage my work, pace of work, and energy right i'll have enough in the tank to get to the end. i'm pretty sure i will. as far as physically, you know, i feel good. we have some pretty good exercise equipment up here. but there are a lot of effects of this environment that we can't see or feel like bone loss, effects on our vision,
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effects on our dna, rna, proteins. that's why we're studying this, me and misha, on this one-year flight. right now, the jury is out on that. we're going to have to get all the data, have the scientists analyze it, then submit the results for peer review, the stuff the scientists do, so hopefully we'll find out some great things about me and my colleague spending a year in space. >> so there's a lot of attention, a lot of interest, in getting to mars. how will your effort up there help us to get to mars? >> so a lot of the studies we're doing focuses -- particularly me and my russian colleague, this
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is an incredible facility we have. the international space station has a lot of capability to collect data on us. we have an ultrasound. we have these devices that measure our vision. next week, we're going to do imaging and data collection in a russian device that pulls the blood down towards our feet, lower body negative pressure device. from these experiments, we'll hopefully find out if there are any cliffs out there, if our vision gets significantly worse maybe after nine months or a year. even though the russians have flown on board the mirror space station for a year or longer in a couple of cases, they didn't have the technology we have today to figure this out. you know, the space station is also a great experiment in sustainable energy and life support equipment and understanding how that works and how we can maintain ourselves
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with these systems for longer periods of time. both of those things are going to help us go to mars someday. hopefully in the not too disstant future. >> as part of what's happening, you're undergoing a twins' study along with your brother here on the ground. explain how that is working. do you have any results on the twins' study so far? anything you can share or won't any of this be known until after your experience is done and you analyze all the data afterward? >> you know, i think most of it will be stuff that we learn y afterwards. i have had some interaction with some of the investigators. one thing that was -- i found somewhat interesting, maybe not too unexpected, our microbiom,
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that's stuff that's inside us, we have more cells of bacteria that we carry around with us that aren't -- isn't part of our body, but they just live inside of us. one of the principal investigators told me while i was up here she found it interesting that me and my brothers microbiom is completely different. it was kind of an interesting factoid, i guess. >> the goal, however, is that at the end of this you'll be able to document or nasa will be able to document as never before the effects of micro gravity on a human using a twin human to really get in at a detailed level. >> yeah, you know, it's kind of
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a serendipitous kind of thing. nasa has a lot of data on him going back to when we entered in 1995. they can look at that data and the data they collect with him over this year and see what kind of deviations that we have on a genetic level that could be a result of this environment, the weightlessness of this environment, the radiation we see, and from that, figure out other areas we can investigate so we can figure out our journey to mars and elsewhere. >> nasa estimates that the earth-like planet has double the
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earth's gravity. those scientists mentioned your heroic experiment and the effects on gravity when talking about this. so as you anticipate the physical recovery needed to return to earth's gravity from the weightlessness of the space station, how do you think humans can adapt to gravity stronger than earth's? >> i guess charles darwin proved the species, different species in general, are very adaptable to their environment, so i think over the long term it wouldn't be an issue. just like we've learned to live and work in micro gravity environment, i'm sure people could learn to live and work in an environment that's twice the amount of gravity. although i think so to be comfortable with that in that situation it would probably take a little bit longer to get
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comfortable up here weighing twice as much. when we come back from the space station, we do feel like you weigh 500 pounds, more than double your real weight. but it's something you adjust to very quickly. we as a species throughout evolution have shown that we're very adaptable. >> how long has it taken you to get used to this environment of micro gravity, and is it a constant process of adjustment or is it something that you figure out and then it's just there? >> you know, that's a really good question. you know, one i've never been asked before. what is the process of adjusting? so far i've found that it is a continuous thing. it gets less significant over
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time, but i do notice i can do things now that i couldn't do right when i first got up here, even though i'd flown 180 days in space before. my ability to move around has really improved over time and continues to improve. you just get more comfortable. you're clarity of thought is greater. your ability to focus, things like that. so i've found the adaptation has not stopped. it'll be interesting to see where i'm at six months from now. >> i know that on earth when they do experiments -- there you go. that's good. that's good. on earth, when they do experiments, they often put people down in a close environment and leave them there for months at a time to see how
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they interact with one another. now you're up there for a long time with your colleague. how about the human component of this, the human interaction? are there subjects that you need to avoid in talking about, or how do you learn to live with one person for such a long time or people so long up on the space station? >> you know, i think people find it hard to believe, but so far in my over 300 days -- actually approaching a year in space -- i've noticed very few conflicts. our international partners do a great job of selecting people to get along with in this type of harsh environment. i haven't had any issues, nor do i expect to have any or people
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that have issues with me, hopefully not. we get along great, and we're all one big team up here. we recognize how we rely on each other on a psychological level but also for our own personal safety. that goes -- it's just as important with my fellow astronaut up here as it is with my other international colleagues, including the russian cosmonauts on board. >> i'm going to bring in your brother here in minute, but do you think that you or mark got the better end of the deal on the twins' study? >> well, i think it depends. it's a privilege to fly on this flight, but when he sometimes sends me pictures of his breakfast, i'm a little envious. >> mark, what would you say to
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your brother? >> what about? breakfast? >> sure. >> i talked to him yesterday and we caught up on a few things. there is a phone on the space station so we can communicate other than this kind of setting. i was interested in what you thought about the houston texans first performance yesterday. >> well, fortunately, it's a long season, so i'm very optimistic they'll improve. i think there's areas where they need to, but regardless of how they do i'm a huge fan. feel fortunate to have football season here and have something to look forward to on the weekends. >> i have another question for scott. so in space, you can see he's got his legs down but he's not standing. his feet are actually under a hand rail. i think it is interesting what happens to your feet in space, so maybe you can share -- if you're comfortable with that,
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share that with folks. >> we don't really use the bottom of our feet much, so over time any calluses you have on your feet kind of fall off. after about five months up here, you have baby feet, but then you have a big callus on the top of your toe because you use that to move around. i was getting a massage. the masseuse said you have the softest feet i've ever felt in my whole life. my response was thank you. i'm very proud of them. >> scott, this is obviously probably the start of what will be a long experience for long human space flight missions as
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we contemplate mars and beyond in our future. you have been up there about halfway now, a near full year stint, but do you have any advice that you'd give to future astronauts who are going to be spending a long duration in space? anything you would pass on to them? >> you know, i was fortunate that i had flown almost six months my previous flight, so i sort of knew what i was getting into. but despite that, i did have certain american peoppprehensio go into something that was going to be more than twice as long, so i intentionally thought about ways for me to get to the end of this with as much energy as i had in the beginning. part of that is having a good balance between work and rest.
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i intentionally don't work at the same pace i did last time i was up here where i felt like i could go at 100% speed for the full six months. i can't do that. so i consciously try to throttle myself back a little bit at certain time and have a really good balance between work and rest, and that's what i would encourage anyone who attempts to spend this amount of time in this type of environment. you just have to pace yourself. >> in the remaining time you have up there, what are you most looking forward to in the next six months or so up there? >> we have a couple of space walks coming up, i look forward to that. i've never done a space walk. i'll be doing one with the guy that just got something out of the refrigerator, so we both
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look forward to that and that'll be a challenge for the two of us, but what i'm looking most forward to is just getting to the end of this with as much energy and enthusiasm as i had in the beginning and doing it safely and completing all of our mission objectives and getting all the science done. >> okay. last question. of all the things that you miss in your time away from earth and now after such a long time, what's the top of your list of things you miss from being down on the planet? >> so after being with other people, people you care about, your family, your friends, just going outside. this is a very closed environment. we can never leave. the lighting is always pretty much the same. the smells, the sounds.
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everything's the same. even i think most prisoners can get outside occasionally in a week, but we can't. that's what i miss after people. >> scott kelly, i want to thank you for joining us today on this historic day at the national press club. the audience wants to show its appreciation by giving you some applause. thank you. [ applause ] >> my pleasure. >> all right. see you later. somebody passed up a question and maybe it was one of ours. there were some large cameras in the pictures, are those to take
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pictures of earth or what are those used for? >> those were for earth. the lab where scott was, there's a very large window of high quality. when we don't have the experiment blocking the window, we can grab the camera and take pictures. scott's been really good. i had a tendency to take big picture views where you can see the earth and space and stars. it's one of the favorite things we do in space is take pictures. >> what was the room that he was coming to us from? what was the purpose of that space? >> so we were in the lab, and we were looking backwards towards the russian segment. there's some exercise equipment off to the side. he was in there either running on a treadmill or we have an exercise machine that allows you
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to do bench press and squats. >> the u.s. laboratory. >> okay. the u.s. laboratory. he mentioned missing going outside. what would you do to avoid being stir crazy up there? >> it was funny. i think it was right after scott got there when samantha and i were there. i missed earth. the russians were sending up audio clips of rain and wind and birds and stuff, so there was one weekend where every laptop -- the station has 100 laptops. we put this rain sound. it was like raining in the station for the whole weekend. it was pretty cool. everywhere you went it just sounded like rain. that's one way to cope with it. >> mark, i talked with your brother about the twins' study. what is your role in the twins' study here on the ground, and how much time does it take? how often are you being tested and the like? >> so far my role has been to
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provide samples, blood, saliva, other things. i'm not going to go into. be there for mris and ultrasounds and even some experiments. sometimes i'll be laying in some kind of contraption. i don't know what they're trying to figure out. do whatever you need to do. so it's providing data over an extended period of time. sometimes i'll visit houston and meet with the researchers and spend a whole day giving data. sometimes they'll send somebody to tucson or even once to new york city to collect data from me. and we'll do this while my brother's in space, but i think also after he gets back for a period of time. from what we understand from some of these researchers, one of them recently said they're going to have more information on scott and i on our molecular
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and genetic information than any other human ever. that was not an official position, but this is what one of the researchers, their comment on this study. there's probably 10 to 12 different experiments or at least universities doing experiments from the university of frankfort, stanford, purdue. it'll be interesting to see what the data shows on the genetic and molecular effects from this long duration space flight. my brother mentioned there'll be a cliff. i think that needs a little bit further explanation, right? we have data on a lot of people out to six months in space. we have a pretty good idea what
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happens in that six-month period. we have no data beyond six-months, so maybe there becomes a bend in the curve. we know people's vision gets worse over the six-month period. but maybe at nine months or ten months it gets really bad. imagine you're trying to send a crew to go live and work on mars for an extended period of time, but by the time they get there they're going to be nearly blind from the environment. that's a big problem. that's part of the idea of doing this research over a one-year period is to figure out if there's any bends in the curve. >> what are the thoughts of both of you on how soon we can get to mars? >> you know, i think our ability to go to mars is not so much based on the technology to do that. i think that part we can figure it out. we can figure out the engineering and the propulsion system. ultimately, i think we can
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figure out what it's going to take to mitigate some of these physiological effects of being in space. but the factor that really controls when we actually do this is the public desire to do it. we will need a lot of public support if we're going to take on that kind of endeavor to put a person on mars, and that public support then means that we get congressional support and administration support in the white house. that's the most important thing because a challenge like sending people to mars it's going to be expensive and it's going to take a long time. without that public support, i would say it won't happen. >> the both of you have spent time in the station and had that experience of adjusting back to earth gravity. scott will have that in a more significant way one imagines
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because of the length of time he'll be up there, but what are the three or so most unique things that your body experiences, that you go through, when you transition back to earth from a period of time up on the space station? >> it's interesting. after my shuttle flight, which was relatively short duration, i really felt heavy. after my station flight of 200 days, i felt heavy but the main sensation i had was one of being dizzy. you could still walk, but it took a few days before that dizziness abated. the thing that surprised me about 200 days was how quickly i adapted back to earth. i was prepared for much worse and had months of lingering effects, but i adapted a lot quicker than i thought. >> was that also your experience on the transition?
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>> well, i flew four flights but they're all around two weeks or a little bit more or a little bit less. i don't have that experience of being in space for a long period of time, but my observation has been that when you're flying a space shuttle mission, it is like a two-week train wreck of trying to operate and get everything you need to complete in this short period of time. you have a lot of crew members working very fast. you don't have a lot of time to exercise. it's important to exercise in space. on a space shuttle mission, i'll exercise two or three times. space station crew members, even though they're in space for six months, they're doing a significant amount of exercise every single day. i think that's what happens. i think that's why you acclimated pretty well after 200 days in space. it probably didn't feel a lot different than being in space
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for just two weeks. >> i think both of you would agree the technology is imaginable on getting to mars. what happens with our astronauts once they get there? how do we handle making it so astronauts can live there? how difficult will it be? how long do they have to stay before coming back, or would they just not come back? >> we're going to see that in a movie in about a week or so. >> you can see the movie. you can read the book also. there's two ways to go to mars. this is a big question that needs to be answered. you can go the slow boat way, the traditional chemical rocket. it takes six to nine months to get there. you have to wait for earth and mars to catch up again before you can come home. you spend about a year and a half on the surface.
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another six months to come home. it's a three-year mission, which is a lot of time for your water systems to work and your carbon dioxide remufoval to work. using electricity, you pump out the propellant fast on the back end. you need a nuclear reactor in space to pump enough electricity. if you do the fast way, the problems of the human body in space is mitigated. the problems of packing water is mitigated and your systems don't last as long. we have to get there either the fast way or the slow way. >> if we made the decision and congress got behind it, how far away are we from realistically achieving this, do you think? >> well, the first human in
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space happened in 1961 and we were on the moon in 1969. there's a historical context. actually getting to mars takes longer than getting to the moon, but it could be done in a decade or two maybe. mark's answer was very well. it's more a question of political science than it is rocket science. >> let me ask you about nasa in general as someone who grew up with apollo. for me, apollo 15 was the end all because i was 7 years old. i didn't remember apollo 11, but i had the astronaut dolls or whatever you want to call them, the little guys that i'd play with. nasa was a huge deal, right? then in more recent years there was some thought that nasa had come on harder times. we were relying on the russians more and nasa's glory days were
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over. then we had the pluto fly-by. there was so much excitement cre created. what is your view of where we are with our space agency in the united states and what do we need to do, if anything, to put it on the right future course? >> i can talk about what we're doing now and i'll let mark finish. there's a lot going on at nasa. the pluto mission obviously. we have mars rovers. the human space flight program is very robust. nasa is very involved in space exploration, all aspects of it robotically and human. it has not gone away at all. we are flying with the russians right now. that was one of the highlights of my mission was getting a chance to work with russian
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colleagues. that was a great experience. soon we'll be flying on american vehicles again. nasa is very busy. it hasn't ended in any way, shape, or form. there's a very bright future. >> here in the united states we have the best scientists and engineers in the world, and i think we can do anything we set our minds to. really anything. especially in space flight. it's challenging, but we have the resources to do these things. i think what we need to do is pick exciting missions that the public will be interested in like the pluto mission. being somebody who used to work at nasa and fly in space, even i thought that was pretty neat to see pluto up close for the first time, to see those images come back and start to learn more about something that is or isn't a planet. i don't know what it is today, so we've got to pick these exciting missions. then we have to allow nasa to do
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this. what often happens we'll be asked to do something and then either sometimes nasa will cancel a program or congress will cancel it or the white house will cancel it. we have to understand these things, despite the ability of our scientists and engineers to do these things, they do take a long period of time. often from one administration in the white house to the next, so i think people just need to be patient. we need to give nasa the resources to do these hard things, but we have the people and the ability to accomplish exciting things in space. >> terry, we heard scott earlier say he was really looking forward to his space walk and you completed three space walks during your mission and this helped prepare the space station for the new boeing commercial vehicles. you also gave us some amazing
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gopro imagery and it made us feel like we were there too, but can you tell us what it was like to be out on the space walks and doing this sort of work? >> yeah, it was definitely a unique -- i've had a chance to do a lot of stuff in life. that was definitely unique. going outside for the first time. in the pool, we practice doing space walks in this weightless pool. there's a module from there to there. i reach over and grab and move on to where i'm doing my work. on my very first space walk i went to do that. nope, i'm not going to do that. i kind of stayed on the side of the space station and didn't take the shortcut, but it is an amazing experience to look back and see the earth. i felt like maybe a minute or two to do that in all my three space walks because they were so busy. there's so many tasks that had to happen, so i never really felt like i had any free time
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while i was out there. it was more like a shuttle flight than it was a station flight. >> mark, where the international space station, it's almost like we're so used to it we're almost taking it for granted, but what could be done to improve the scientific output of the space station and the impact it has? >> well, my brother mentioned that they've got over the period of time that he's going to be there there's 400 different experiments going on in a bunch of different laboratories. there's the u.s. laboratory. there's the japanese laboratory. there's a european laboratory on board. the russians do science in the russian segment, so it's an incredible facility. there's a lot going on. to expand the output of the space station, you just need more people. space station was first launched in 1998, so 17 years now. starting to get kind of old. things break. people have to fix things when
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they break. that takes time away from doing the science. you don't have an electrician or a plumber. you don't have somebody to clean the place up, so the crew members are the -- they're the mechanic. they're the scientist. they're the secretary, the guy who is fixing the toilet when that breaks. you're the maid. you're cleaning up on the weekend or during the week, so it really comes down to crew time. but to add crew members is complicated. you have more crew members on board. now you need another return vehicle on board that acts as a lifeboat if something happens. it also needs those -- those extra people you need to be able to support them not only with food and water but oxygen, air to breathe, and carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, so it gets really complicated. to answer your question, we
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would need more people to get more out of it. >> the international space station is living up to its name. do you foresee when we look at mars and long space flights in the future, do you envision that these will be international collaborations or more of u.s. efforts? >> my own personal view is that it will definitely be international. the reason the international space station survived, if you look at the history of it back in the 90s, i think the international aspect of it allowed it to make it through congress. the international program makes it something that can survive over a longer period of time. plus it's great to have the ingenui ingenuity. >> somebody passed up a question about elan musk, who recently talked about mars and using a
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thermo nuclear device as an option to make mars more habitable. any thought or comment on that? >> i saw that in the newspaper. i don't know the science behind nuking a planet, but i will tell you elan is a very smart guy and he does think outside the box. when you look at what he's been able to accomplish not only with spacex launching can cargo, hopefully people pretty soon, a big solar company, he tends to know what he's talking about, but i don't know the science behind nuking the planet. >> another person in the audience here writes u.s.-russia relations are tense on earth but seem very productive in space. what can leaders learn from your
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cooperation aboard the international space station? >> i can definitely second that motion. on earth, preparing to launch in space are great. our colleagues there are very great and capable. i had a great time in space with anton and sasha and misha, who is up there with scott right now. we had a great experience with them. frankly, i think the station has accomplished a lot of things. the most important thing is the international relation aspect of it. of all the ups and downs of relationships on earth, the space station has been a very positive beacon of light. >> so terry, you were on the space station during experiments with 3d printing. please describe the benefits of technology for deep space missions in the future and for the space station now if there are any. were there any parts produced during the test run that were
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used and any lessons learned that could improve on the technology in the near term? >> yes, the 3d printing is a great concept. you can imagine going to mars. your closet is going to be full. you're limited to one bag only, so you can't bring all the tools you need. if you can print out on parts or tools, that can save on the amount of mass you have to launch. we did make a wrench. it was made of plastic. it wasn't like a hard metal wrench, and it was the first time it was done in space, so it was more of a technology demonstrator. it was cool to see a tool printed out in space. we send it back down to earth for analysis, but that's a technology that has a lot of promise, i think.
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>> mark, what is the lasting impression space has given you? what's the thing that strikes you the most later on? >> i think what became very obvious to me in 2001 during my first space mission was that we live on an island in a really unforgiving environment. you look back at the earth from a distance. you have very few people on board the space shuttle and space station. we have 7.5 billion people on this round ball just floating there in the blackness of space. we really have no place else to go and that becomes a very -- that was pretty striking and pretty quick observation by my part and i imagine by other astronauts that fly in space, so i think it gives you a little bit more of an appreciation for our planet and what it does for all of us and the need for us to consider that and take care of it. >> right.
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terry, as we've talked about, the space station crew has conducted hundreds of experiments, including many that have been developed by science students and transmitted up there. do you consult with these same students when questions arise and if so, how, and which science student experiments were the most interesting or challenging? >> we do have -- it depends on the experiment. sometimes they will -- we just talked to houston or huntsville as the nasa control center when we're doing experiments. sometimes if it is complicated, they'll tie us in directly to the scientist who made it, so it depends on the experiment. i'm trying to think of the student-only experiments we had. you just do the experiment. you don't really know who came up with it, but as far as student experiments, i do
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remember they built some equipment like storage bags. >> spheres. >> there's a thing called spheres. they're little satellites with little cartridges of air jets that fly around. it was that a big student-led experiment with m.i.t. that my crew mates were talking to the ground. kind of like robotic ko competitions that kids do nowadays, only this was a satellite competition in space they were doing. >> do you think ending the space shuttle program before there was a replacement slowed the u.s. space program? in other words, was it a good transition or could we have done better? >> so we have the columbia
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accident that happened in 2003. after columbia, there was a joint decision to retire the space shuttle because we realized if we continued to fly it another decade, we would lose another spacecraft and a crew, and we didn't want to do that, so this was a decision made by the white house, congress, nasa, and the astronaut office. what it allowed us to do was speed up the development of what the next spacecraft was going to be. when you get into testing and developing and building the hardware for a new system, a new launch system, a new rocket, a new spacecraft, it gets really expensive really quickly. like upwards of $2 billion to $3 billion a year to do this. the space shuttle operating budget was about $2 billion to $3 billion a year. we could have retired the space
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shuttle and used that money to develop a new spacecraft or we could have gotten $2 would haved have reformed the space shuttle. it's the best spaceship ever. i loved it. part of me wishes it was still around, but at the same time, we
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did make the right decision. because the space shuttle was designed to fly about 100 flights. . and endeavor, which i flew on its last flight was flight number 25. they were designed to fly about 100 flights but not for 30 or 40 years. that's the issue we were dealing with. so it put us in a position where we have to rely on our russian partners to get crew members to and from the space station right now and over the next couple years still, but we'll be back flying u.s. crew members on u.s. rockets from u.s. soil here in no time. and it puts us on a good path going forward. >> either one of you if you were congress or the president, where would you focus our resources for nasa? would it be on a mars mission, missions like the pluto fly by going back to the moon rgs the space station, where do we need
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to put our focus? >> we do everything. >> what. if you didn't have all those resources? >> nasa does not have just one. i would not focus on just one thing. nasa has a broad mission to do both aircraft research and also robotic space exploration, so i would divide it up. >> okay. terry, you stayed connected to earth through your favorite past time of baseball. az understand, you set out to photograph every major league ballpark from orbit and posted many of these on social media. did you get them all? where did that end up? >> i got almost all. and the coast stadiums are pretty easy to get. like baltimore is easy, d.c., new york stadiums. boston is very easy. it's when you get to the middle
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of the country it gets tough. there's nothing obvious around kansas city. it's hundreds of miles of flat or st. louis or cincinnati. so the ones on the corners were easy to get. but i think i did get them all. i still need to go through files and double check the ones in the center of the country. pittsburgh was tough to get with the hills and stuff in western pennsylvania. >> i think my brother is working on getting all the football stadiums now. maybe because of what you did. maybe that's where e he got that idea. >> i want to remind people in. the room that are astronauts will be available down the hall for stand up interviews immediately after this program concludes. i also want to e remind you that the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists.
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we fight for a free press worldwide and for more information about the club, visit to donate to our nonprofit journalism institute, visit i'd also like to remind you about some upcoming programs. this wednesday, september 16th, a at 1:30 p.m. archbishop of miami, bishop oscar kran tu of new mexico and dr. caroline woo, ceo of catholic relief services will discuss pope francis's upcoming visit to washington, d.c. on monday, september 21st, big 12 commissioner will discuss college athletic. and jane choo will discuss new initiatives at a breakfast on september 28th. i would now like to present our in-room guests with the national press club mug.
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you can't easily find it on the space station either. we'll have to figure out a way to get it to your brother. get an extra one. >> i can take care of that. it's not very useful in space, though. >> we mentioned the mars movie that will be coming out. so much fascination in literature, movies, television with space. i'm a "star trek" junky. tell me what kind of science fiction you enjoy, if any, and what you think about the movies and the science fiction you see out there either in book books or on tv, starting with you, terry. >> i have always enjoyed it. "star wars" was the big thing when i was a kid. i remember reading arthur clark as a teen. he wrote some great stuff. watching 2001 there's a space
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station in north orbit and i watched that in space and thought a lot of the stuff came true 50 years later. just watched "interstellar" while i was in space. that's a movie you have to watch a couple times to figure out what's happening. >> so does hollywood get it wrong most of the time? >> they have to make it exciting. scott brought up this big projector with him so we watched "gravity" one night. and watched that movie, it was fun. the mechanics of where everything was and what it looked like was very real. of course, we don't have giant explosions and fireballs and so they have to make that to make the movie interesting. if it was just astronauts doing science experiments, it probably
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wouldn't gross very much at the box office. >> mark, how about you? >> i just started reading this book called "seven eves" about using the space station to save humanity after something bad happens on earth. it's pretty interesting to see how either an author or hollywood uses existing space technology in their movies. when i was younger like these guys age down here, these brothers and sisters down here, i used to read a lot of isaac azmoth. it made me think about what it would be like to be in space one day and i think that's important. it gives people ambition to picture themselves in a different place in a different
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time. >> the good thing, mark, with all the genetic data they have on you what you created to do, go do that and do it well. there's not one path to being an astronaut. there's engineers and we were previous pilots in our former lives. there's medical doctors in space
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rugt now so we need people with lots of different skills. the key is to do what you're passionate about. >> i think there's a high probability that the young people in here today some time in their lives will have the opportunity to go into space. you see companies like virgin galactic and others that are starting on this road to space tourism. and it's exciting and we're going to see a lot more. right now, there's probably about 550 people that have ever been in space and i think that number is going to grow substantially over the next decade. >> is there more excite m now. about prospects in space than at any time in the past? >> one of the reasons is people are starting to think that, hey,
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this could directly afelkt them. like maybe they are going to be the person in space. maybe in some of you are lifetimes instead of taking a flight from new york to london that typically takes about 7 hours, maybe some of us will take that flight in a space shuttle, which is about 40 minutes. that is -- there's no reason why that is not possible in the coming decade. people are starting to think about this differently. >> how about a round of applause for our guests? [ applause ] i want to thank our staff including the journalism institute for their work on today's program. if you'd like a copy of this program, go to our website at and that's where you can alsole


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