WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall issued the following statement marking two years since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) caused the Gold King Mine spill in Southern Colorado and severely contaminated the Animas and San Juan rivers.
An EPA-supervised crew released 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater, Aug. 5, 2015, into Cement Creek — which flows into the Animas and San Juan rivers — while working at the Gold King Mine in Colorado.
Udall released the following statement:
“Two years have passed since the EPA spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater from the Gold King Mine — yet the Navajo Nation, farmers, ranchers, and communities affected by this disaster are still waiting for our government to make them whole. This is an injustice, and it’s long past time that the EPA acted to correct it. The victims of the Gold King Mine spill must be compensated for their hardship.
“The results of investigations into this disaster have been clear and conclusive: the EPA made several serious mistakes that led to the spill, and the agency owes it to the people of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation to compensate the victims. In addition, the EPA’s proposal to completely cut off support for water monitoring in the San Juan and Animas rivers is indefensible. Yesterday, EPA Administrator Pruitt announced that the EPA will reverse its earlier decision and allow victims of the spill to file for compensation. While I wholeheartedly agree that the victims of Gold King Mine spill deserve to be made whole, Administrator Pruitt must take action to ensure that all affected individuals and communities – especially New Mexicans and the Navajo Nation — receive equal treatment and consideration in this process.
“If the EPA continues to abdicate its responsibility to the victims of Gold King Mine in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation, I will keep fighting in Congress to right this wrong – and to change our outdated mining laws to ensure a disaster like this never happens again.”
All five members of the N.M. congressional delegation wrote to Pruitt yesterday, urging him to clarify who will be able to file for compensation — and to treat all claimants, including the state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation — equally. Earlier this week, Udall joined U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) in announcing that they are preparing to introduce legislation to reform the nation’s antiquated hard rock mining laws and prevent another toxic spill like the Gold King Mine disaster.