August 11, 2015

EPA head, AGs from three states will visit Animas River

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There will be several high profile visits to the site of the Animas River Spill in the coming days.

2000px-Environmental_Protection_Agency_logo.svgThe spill happened when an Environmental Protection Agency team attempting to clean the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colo. released millions of gallons of water with heavy metals and other materials. The materials flowed into a creek that led to the Animas River.

Now, the Administrator of the EPA will visit the site of the damage according to a press release by members of the New Mexico congressional delegation.

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who represents the area impacted by the spill, said that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will travel to the site of the spill at their request.

The three members of the delegation announced it in a joint press release.

“We believe it is critical that she see firsthand the extent of the damage and the need for substantial cleanup efforts,” the members of Congress said. “Just as important, we expect her to listen to local officials and residents in the area who still don’t have answers to when their water will be safe to drink, irrigate their crops and water their livestock.”

In addition, they said they requested a  “detailed plan from EPA to address water shortages in San Juan County and the Navajo Nation as well as for resources to assist residents and local communities.”

They also expressed disappointment at the lack of communication between the EPA and state and local officials. Gov. Susana Martinez has been highly critical of the lack of information from the EPA in recent days.

Martinez had already traveled to the site of the spill after it reached New Mexico.

Earlier on Tuesday, McCarthy took responsibility for the spill and said that the spill “pains me to no end.” McCarthy made the remarks in Washington D.C.

She also said that she expected lawsuits.

There was no day scheduled for the trip. However, on Wednesday Attorneys General from New Mexico, Colorado and Utah will visit the site.

According to a release by the office of Attorney General Hector Balderas, he, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will discuss the states’ legal options as well as the cooperation between states.

Balderas will also visit a site in Farmington Wednesday morning.

Balderas, Farmington Mayor Roberts, Bloomfield Mayor Eckstein and San Juan County Commissioners will be joined by other officials at the entrance to Berg Park.

The Navajo Nation has already said it intends to sue the EPA over the spill, as has New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn and Governor Martinez.

Updated:

Added more information about Balderas’ appearance in Farmington, including other officials who will be at the event.

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