By William H. Carlile
Jan. 14 — The New Mexico Environment Department announced Jan. 14 its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Colorado and owners of the Gold King and Sunnyside mines in connection with environmental impacts it said resulted from the August 2015 massive waste spill in the Animas River that EPA officials admitted causing.
The notice of intent to sue begins a 90-day period before a formal lawsuit is lodged.
An estimated 3 million gallons of toxic mine waste was released into the Animas and San Juan rivers in August 2015 when an EPA contractor accidentally triggered the spill while trying to stabilize the mine. The state said the accident caused toxins to be deposited on the riverbed, agricultural lands and elsewhere in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said in a statement that from the very beginning of the incident, the EPA failed to hold itself accountable in the same way it would a private business.
The EPA “caused an unprecedented disaster that may affect our state for years to come; they must take responsibility,” Flynn said.
The state plans to follow through with its lawsuit, to be filed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the department said, unless “meaningful measures” are taken to clean up the affected areas and the agency agrees to long-term plan that will research and monitor effects of the spill.
EPA spokeswoman Nancy Grantham told Bloomberg BNA the agency could not address the specifics of the notice, but said it is working with the states to develop a monitoring plan to evaluate potential environmental impacts from the spill and will be meeting with representatives in early February.
“EPA is also reimbursing state and local agencies for response-related costs associated with the spill,” she said. “We will carefully review the information provided by the New Mexico Environment Department and respond accordingly.”
On Aug. 5, 2015, when the spill occurred, the EPA failed to notify New Mexico of the spill or to communicate effectively with the state and environmental groups, according to the department.
The first word New Mexico received of the spill came not from EPA, but from the Southern Ute Tribe. Since then, the department claimed, EPA has continued to fail to cooperate with state and local agencies and communities.
Gov. Susana Martinez (R) formed a team to conduct a long-term impact review. The aim, according to the department, is to learn more about the potential consequences of the spill on the health of local communities, sediment, water, wildlife and agriculture.
However, New Mexico officials said the EPA has failed to communicate or to provide accurate information in addressing those concerns.
To contact the reporter on this story: William H. Carlile in Phoenix at: email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)