EPA Withholding Mine Spill Info From State AGs

(REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The EPA is not letting the public know the names of the government contractors responsible for spilling three million gallons of toxic wastewater from a southern Colorado mine. The agency is holding the information close — so close, the Colorado attorney general’s office doesn’t have it.

A spokesman with the Colorado attorney general’s office told The Daily Caller News Foundation the EPA had not disclosed the names of the federal contractor that caused millions of gallons of wastewater into the Animas River — leaked contaminants include zinc, copper, cadmium, iron, lead and aluminum.

The EPA also has yet to meet with attorneys general from three states, who have arrived in Durango, Colorado to get answers from federal officials on the actual cause and extent of the mine spill. AGs from Colorado, New Mexico and Utah have come to Durango, but had yet to meet with EPA officials.

The EPA has also not indicated whether or not it will fire the contractors that caused the spill. An agency spokeswoman told TheDCNF that the “decision about EPA contractors has not been made.” The agency also did not comment when that decision would be made.

For years, the EPA has looked to clean up leaking mine waste from abandoned mines throughout southern Colorado. After attempts to convince Durango County to designate the Gold King Mine as a Superfund site failed, the EPA began working on a project to control the flow of toxic wastewater out of two other mines in the area.

But something went wrong, and EPA workers ended up unleashing millions of gallons of oil into Cement Creek, which eventually flowed into the Animas River and turned it bright orange. The toxic plume of wastewater has now flowed into the San Juan River and impacted water use on Native American lands.

EPA has taken full responsibility for the spill and has people on the ground looking to monitor the flow of pollution and test water quality in the affected rivers. Federal, state and local officials have all hammered the EPA for causing the mine spill and for harming the Durango County’s economy and drinking water.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said she would not rule out suing the Obama administration in order to hold it to the same standards as a private company that caused an environmental catastrophe.

“Right now we have people preparing for a lawsuit if that is what we need to do,” Martinez said in a recent television interview.

Initial tests in the region showed high levels of pollution in the waters, which have abated some as the toxic wastewater moves downriver. As of Monday, the plume had reached Utah and was on its way to Lake Powell. Officials are telling residents along the impacted waterways to have their water tested before cooking, bathing or drinking any of it.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has revealed the identity of the federal contractor working on Gold King Mine when it ruptured.

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