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EPA to be sued over toxic waste that the agency poured into Animas River


EPA pollution
(NaturalNews) On January 14, 2016, officials in New Mexico filed their intent to sue the EPA and the owners of two Colorado mines whose mine waste poured into the Animas River – a tributary of the San Juan and Colorado rivers. The officials also claim the EPA is working with Colorado "to support its own woefully inadequate monitoring plan, which fails to address critical environmental and public health issues, and only serves to limit liability."

EPA workers accidentally caused a blowout at the Gold King Mine on August 5, 2015, and 3 million gallons of wastewater flowed into the Animas River, and then into the San Juan River, leaving poisoned, contaminated water in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona, as well as land used by two American Indian tribes, the Navajo and the Ute.

"From the very beginning, the EPA failed to hold itself accountable in the same way that it would a private business," Ryan Flynn, New Mexico Environment Department's cabinet secretary, said in a statement. "The EPA caused an unprecedented disaster that may affect our state for years to come; they must take responsibility."

"Because EPA headquarters continues to shirk their duties for meaningful support and collaboration, we have no choice but to turn to the justice system to hold EPA accountable to New Mexicans," said Flynn.

Officials in Colorado also called out the EPA for allegedly lying about Colorado's role in opening the Gold King Mine. The state's top mine regulator wrote that the EPA's "conclusions into the events surrounding the discharge were not consistent with our staff's involvement and we felt it important to make sure the investigators were aware of our perspective."

Catastrophic for native tribes

Native tribes are also upset with the EPA for mishandling spill liability waivers and receiving tainted water shipments.

On September 17, 2015, in testimony before a US House of Representative's Joint Oversight Hearing on "EPA's Animas Spill," the President of the Navajo Nation, Russell Begaye, stated: "While USEPA was slow in notifying the Nation of the initial spill and its associated risks, it was quick in dispatching staff to Navajo communities to hand out Standard Form 95 and encouraging members of the Navajo Nation to fill out forms to expedite settlement of their claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act and apparently to obtain releases from members of the Navajo Nation. But this was only after I announced that the Navajo Nation would be suing the USEPA and other liable parties for the spill," he said.

"The Navajo Nation Attorney General reviewed the form and identified plain and clear language on the form asserting that individuals submitting the forms would be filing the forms in pursuit of 'FULL SATISFACTION AND FINAL \SETTLEMENT' of their claims for damages and injuries that yet remain unknown," Begaye reported.

The San Juan River is a major water source for the Navajo Nation. "The San Juan River flows through 215 miles of some of the richest farmland in the Nation's territory, and provides much of the Nation's northern border," Begaye said.

"Yet the recent spill threatens to recur, either from unsettling of contaminated sediment in our River waters, or from ongoing contaminated releases from upstream mines," he said. "USEPA stated early on that we will be dealing with the effects of USEPA's Gold King Mine chemical spill "for decades,"

How much will clean-up cost?

The President of the American Action Forum, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, testified at the hearing and told the Committee: "Although there is no direct precedent for the toxic Animas River spill in Colorado, past EPA estimates indicate that the spill could cost between $338 million and $27.7 billion."

To protect America from more toxic pollution caused by the EPA, Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, has announced a nationwide effort to test America's public water supplies for lead contamination. Citizens can contribute water samples to his project at EPAwatch.org.

Sources:

DailyCaller.com

DailyCaller.com[PDF]

AmericanActionForum.org
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