Will EPA Fire Contractors That Caused The Toxic Mine Waste Spill?

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

The EPA has not yet decided what to do with the government contractors responsible for unleashing millions of gallons of toxic mine wastewater into a Colorado river.

“The decision about EPA contractors has not been made,” an agency spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The agency did not respond to TheDCNF when asked when that decision would be made.

Last week EPA contractors accidentally released three million gallons of toxic mine wastewater from Colorado’s Gold King Mine while using heavy equipment. They were attempting to open the mine up so they could treat the wastewater inside, but instead released toxic waste and turned the Animas River bright orange.

Preliminary tests by Colorado officials, however, showed the Animas River “doesn’t appear” to carry a public health risk. After initially spiking, “the metal levels along the river in the Durango area have returned to pre-incident levels,” according to CNN. The contaminates eventually found their way to New Mexico, and the state declared a state of emergency.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez issued an executive order Monday which gives $750,000 to test well water, study the spill’s long-term effects and support state agency responses to the spill. The state’s environmental department also got another $500,000 in emergency funds.

“Until we can advise New Mexicans that our water and the Animas River are safe, once again, we continue focusing on fixing the problem, not the blame game,” a spokeswoman with the New Mexico Environment Department told TheDCNF. “Ultimately we will ensure that New Mexico is fairly compensated for the activities associated with EPA’s Gold King Mine spill.”

Republican lawmakers are demanding answers from the EPA regarding the Gold King Mine spill. Southern Coloradans living downstream are furious with the EPA and some are worried tourism will be negatively impacted.

“The river is basically closed so that shuts down all the rafting,” Andy Corra, the owner of 4Corners Riversports, told CNN. “They’re losing all their revenue.”

“One day business is booming, and the next day, boom, it’s shut off,” Corra said. “It’s a huge bummer for the whole industry.”

EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy will travel to the regions affected by the spill. The agency has set up a website to continually update the public on spill cleanup operations.

“This is a tragic and unfortunate incident, and EPA is taking responsibility to ensure that it is cleaned up,” McCarthy said at an event Tuesday. “We are committed to helping the people throughout the Four Corner Regions who rely on these rivers for their drinking water, irrigation water and recreation. We know how important it is to them.”

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Tags : animas river colorado environmental protection agency gina mccarthy gold king mine new mexico susana martinez
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