EPA Spent $29 Million Cleaning Up The Gold King Mine Blowout

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has spent $29 million cleaning up a massive Colorado mine blowout caused by federal workers nearly one year ago.

Politico Pro reports EPA “spent $7.5 million on sampling and analysis, $2.7 million for an interim water treatment plant and $1.7 million for clean water and livestock feed in areas affected by the contaminated water, among other expenses.”

News of EPA’s costly mine blowout comes after the agency’s inspector general announced an audit of the agency-caused spill is being delayed because investigators launched a criminal probe into the matter.

“[T]here is investigative material that we cannot reveal in any report about our program evaluation until the investigation reaches a point where the U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA’s OIG’s Office of Investigations inform us that we may do so,” the IG’s office wrote to Congress.

“We have concluded that it is not possible to provide you with a meaningful final report until we can address and incorporate some of those investigative results, which we cannot do at this time,” they wrote.

It’s been almost one year since an EPA crew breached the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado and caused a massive blowout. Some 3 million gallons of toxic mine wastewater ran into the Animas River, contaminating the drinking water for thousands of people.

The mine waste eventually made its way into the San Juan River, contaminating water in New Mexico, Utah and Navajo Nation. New Mexico has sued the EPA over the Gold King Mine spill.

Republican lawmakers have heavily criticized EPA over the spill, and have hounded the agency for not firing or taking any disciplinary actions against employees or contractors involved in the spill. In fact, the EPA’s lead at Gold King Mine retired before investigators could finish their probe.

EPA took responsibility for the spill, and has spent $29 million to date testing water quality and setting up temporary water treatment sites, but experts have said the damage from the spill could persist for decades.

The Daily Caller News Foundation conducted its own investigation into the spill and found the EPA intentionally breached the mine without the right equipment and without conducting proper pressure testing.

TheDCNF also consulted legal experts who said a private company would face steep fines and even jail time if it had caused a similar spill.

“The government, for whatever reason, is treating itself more favorably than it would a private party,” Paul Larkin, a former federal attorney who now works for the conservative Heritage Foundation, told TheDCNF in February.

“Federal officials aren’t immune to criminal prosecution,” Larkin said. “If these were private parties they would have opened a criminal investigation.”

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