A Native American community that was devastated by a flood of poisoned water released in a man-made pollution crisis is still waiting for compensation from the responsible agency — months after the disaster happened.
But that community isn’t Flint, Mich., where President Barack Obama pledged $80 million in assistance after local, state and federal missteps and inaction caused lead poisoning in an unknown number of homes’ water supplies.
It’s the Navajo Nation that still waits for reimbursement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) poisoned its drinking water in a disastrous incident at Colorado’s Gold King Mine in August 2015. An EPA contractor doing the agency’s bidding caused a spill that poisoned the Animas River with three million gallons of toxic waste, turning the river and its tributaries yellow in three states.
“It caused hundreds, maybe thousands of farmers to lose their crops and have their crops affected last season,” Navajo Nation President Spokesman Mihio Manus told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It affected the livelihood of these farmers,” Manus said. “A lot of farmers lost a lot of money.”
Manus explained many customers were skeptical about buying produce from Navajo farmers – who irrigate their crops with water from the San Juan River, which is fed by the Animas River.
“We are still moving forward with establishing reimbursement and funds to be distributed to the farmers, and we are still addressing the issue of how many contaminants have settled into the river bed,” Manus said.
Many Navajo farmers are concerned the San Juan River remains toxic and are avoiding its use, though the EPA declared the water is safe, according to Manus.
New Mexico’s environmental agency recently found “levels of contamination that came close to those immediately after the spill” after heavy rains stirred San Juan River’s sediment, Indian Country Today Media Network reported Friday.
[dcquiz] The feds recently began a multi-agency criminal investigation into the Flint crisis. Yet, the Gold King Mine disaster is not the focus of a federal criminal investigation — though House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans recently reported that the EPA violated two federal laws in the incident.
It’s likely that many details regarding the mine’s blowout will remain secret without a criminal investigation, TheDCNF previously reported.
TheDCNF has reported extensively on the striking differences between the federal government’s handling of the two disasters.
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