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Suit against the EPA & Colorado Mine Owners in Response to the Gold King Mine Spill’s Catastrophic Impact on New Mexico

NEWS RELEASE

May 23, 2016

 

Contact:   Allison Scott Majure, Communications Director

New Mexico Environment Department

505.231.8800 | allison.majure@state.nm.us                    

New Mexico Sues U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

and Mine Owners over Gold King Mine Spill

Environmental and Economic Damages Top $100 Million

Santa Fe – Today the administration of Governor Susana Martinez and New Mexico  Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a lawsuit on behalf of the New Mexico Environment Department against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado owners of the Gold King and Sunnyside mines.  The action will address the impacts resulting from the 2015 massive waste spill in the Animas River that EPA officials admitted to causing. In August of last year, the EPA caused a release of three million gallons of toxic mine wastewater laden with 880,000 pounds of metals into the Animas and San Juan Rivers, depositing toxins downstream on the riverbed, agricultural lands, and elsewhere in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

 

In the ten months since the spill, the New Mexico Environment Department has been responding to citizen concerns and maintaining safety oversight via emergency preparedness plan and long-term monitoring activities for health, wildlife, water, agriculture, and sediment to ensure public safety. Although, New Mexico has provided EPA with a wealth of data showing continuing high levels of metals, turbidity, and suspended solids in New Mexico’s rivers and sediment, the EPA has consistently discounted or ignored this data.

 

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said, “Over the last seven months we have sought practical negotiations with EPA on topics ranging from their bizarre sediment standard, to comprehensive long-term monitoring. Our requests have been simple: ‘Please help us keep New Mexicans safe from the effects of the spill which you caused.’

 

“Rather than joining our monitoring efforts, EPA instead cherry picks the data they choose to monitor and present; and then dodges accountability at every turn.”

 

New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas wrote last week, “I am disappointed by the continued unwillingness to respond to the New Mexico Environment Department’s numerous attempts to resolve this matter diplomatically and outside of court. The safe and peaceful livelihood of our citizens should override any political or scientific differences that we face.”

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See lawsuit that was filed in federal court today.

 

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