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New Mexico Sues Colorado Over Gold King Mine Spill

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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New Mexico is suing Colorado over the Gold King Mine spill, the New Mexico Environment Department announced Thursday.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency crew breached the Colorado mine in August 2015, unleashing a flood of three million gallons of toxic waste into the Animas River. The flood, which carried 880,000 pounds of dangerous chemicals like lead and arsenic, poisoned drinking water for three states – including New Mexico – and the Navajo Nation.

Colorado officials assisted the EPA at the site and had done their own work at Gold King Mine in previous years. The state, in fact, authorized lower mines to be plugged, which raised Gold King’s pressure.

That pressure increase was one of the major causes of its 2015 blowout.

“The Gold King Mine release is the result of two decades of disastrous environmental decision-making by Colorado, for which New Mexico and its citizens are now paying the price,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement.

“New Mexicans rely on the Animas and San Juan Rivers for drinking water, ranching, farming, tourism and much more, so our communities must be compensated and protected from future health and safety risks.”

Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn added:

“Colorado was fully aware of the enormous risks to downstream communities associated with their failed strategy of plugging drainage tunnels. They, essentially, authorized the transformation of Colorado mines into an enormous wastewater storage facility, ready to burst.”

New Mexico also alleged that Colorado downplayed the spill’s effects.

The suit was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, The Associated Press reported. New Mexico filed suit against the EPA and several mine owners in May. (RELATED: New Mexico Sues ‘Grossly Negligent’ EPA Over Mine Disaster)

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