EPA finally settles lawsuit over 2015 Gold King mine blowout

 (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP, FILE) 


It was nine years ago when an EPA project in southern Colorado led to the disastrous event that became known as the Gold King Mine blowout, where millions of gallons of acid mine waste were released in to the Animas River.

It not only caused an environmental disaster in Southern Colorado but in New Mexico as well, and also caught the attention of then-U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. He immediately criticized the federal government

The Department of the Interior’s report of the Gold King mine incident raises significant new questions about the events leading up to the spill and why EPA and its contractors ignored the risks that led to the blowout.”

The Senator went on to call it “astonishing” that the Bureau of Reclamation had the lead for conducting the so-called independent review of cleanup of abandoned mine sites in the Animas River basin.

“In fact, the report indicates EPA had asked Reclamation to advise on the plans for the Gold King mine but, for some unknown reason, EPA allowed the work to proceed causing the blowout before Reclamation staff visited the site.  The report indicates little to no engineering analysis was done at the Gold King mine site but, as a peer reviewer with the Army Corps of Engineers apparently noted, the report fails to address the internal events at EPA leading up the blowout.”

As a result, on August 15, 2015, the EPA contractors caused the blowout of the mine above Silverton, Colorado and released not only three million gallons of acid mine waste but 800,000 pounds of heavy metals into Cement Creek and the Animas River.

A lawsuit against the EPA was recently settled by Todd Hennis, who owned a mining claim on Cement Creek below the mine. Out There Colorado reported, Hennis sued the EPA for failing to compensate him for the use of his land to to help mitigate ongoing acid mine waste flowing down the creek.

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