Eight months after an Environmental Protection Agency crew unleashed millions of gallons of metal-tainted water into Colorado’s Animus River, the agency’s chief gave a tone-deaf address at Harvard University, touting the “good news” about the environmental disaster.

The Daily Caller reports:

 “But, the good news about Gold King is that, you know, it really was a bright color, but the bright color was because the iron was oxidizing,” [EPA chief Gina] McCarthy said while speaking at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“It meant we had actually less problem than how it usually leaks, [laugh] which is pretty constantly, and so it was only a half a day’s release of what generally comes from those mines and goes into those rivers,” McCarthy said.

That’s an absurdly optimistic spin, given that the EPA itself recently found that the Animas River absorbed more than 880,000 pounds of metal from the three million gallon spill, including mercury, arsenic and lead. At the time of the spill, an EPA toxicologist described the toxicity of the metal levels as “scary.”

The contaminated water flowed across state lines, and New Mexico, which relies on the Animus River for everything from agriculture to household water supply.

CBS Denver recently reported on how the EPA’s mistake affected some new Mexico residents:

Joe Ben Jr. is a farmer and representative to the Navajo Nation board. He walked with CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger through corn stalks in a field.

“This corn should normally be higher than 6 feet, it’s about 4 feet,” Ben said.

With sadness he told of how they shut off the irrigation water when they heard the toxic plume was coming and still haven’t turned it back on.

Some 550 indigenous Navajo farmers in the region have felt the impact. Ben says farming is an art in their culture for those who live off the land. 

Among them is Earl Yazzie and his family. He can only bundle up what remains of what might have been a bountiful harvest. The mine spill took a toll on his farm. He estimates the loss at $10,000.

“It hurt me hard, my wife too, my family. It hit us hard. It made us shed tears,” Yazzie said.

 At least McCarthy can find the silver lining.