Legislators blast EPA for 'continued failure' to repay Gold King Mine spill victims 3 years later | KOB 4
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Legislators blast EPA for 'continued failure' to repay Gold King Mine spill victims 3 years later

KOB.com Web Staff
August 05, 2018 05:18 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Saturday marks three years since waste from the Gold King Mine was spilled into the Animas River, sparking outcry and concerns revolving around environmental wellbeing.

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The spill north of Durango was triggered by contractors with the Environmental Protection Agency, and has led to months and months of havoc for nearby residents and wildlife. The federal government has yet to repay victims for millions of dollars in damage claims. 

The agency now says it's making progress on reviewing close to 380 claims for losses affecting income and property values, but EPA officials have not indicated how long that process may take.

Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. senators representing New Mexico Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, along with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., on Saturday blasted the EPA with the following statement:

“It has now been three years since the EPA spilled three million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers – upending the lives and livelihoods of people in the Navajo Nation, farmers, ranchers, and New Mexico communities. And three years later, the victims of this disaster are still left picking up the pieces, and have still not been made whole or received the compensation they deserve from the federal government. The EPA’s continued failure to step up to the plate and compensate victims remains a shameful abdication of responsibility.

“While our work in Congress has yielded key progress to hold EPA accountable and improve water safety, the EPA is dragging its feet and refusing to take the necessary action to right this wrong. Former Administrator Pruitt made many public promises to reconsider past denials for claimants – including in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation— and to work toward compensating victims. Pruitt even publicly stated that decisions on these claims would be made by the end of March 2018. But nearly six months after those promises – and three years after the spill – these victims in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation have yet to see a dime of compensation. The EPA’s opaque and muddled process for reconsidering these claims is just the latest chapter in the agency’s disastrous response to a crisis of its own making.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler should take immediate and transparent action to rectify the EPA’s failures on Gold King Mine. But as long as the EPA fails to act, we will continue to fight in Congress to correct the EPA’s failure and to ensure a disaster like this never happens again.”

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KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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