August 16, 2016

Navajo Nation sues federal government over Gold King Mine spill

Photo of Gold King Mine spill results. Photo via Environmental Protection Agency.

The Navajo Nation announced they are suing the federal government over the Gold King Mine spill last year.

EPA photo King Gold MineThe spill sent a sickly orange plume of pollution down the Animas River, from an abandoned mine in Colorado through the Four Corners area of New Mexico and into Utah. A contractor working for the Environmental Protection Agency caused the blowout.

This included the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest reservation.

According to the Associated Press, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye told the EPA, “We’re holding your feet to the fire.”

In all, an estimated 3 million gallons of polluted water was released into the water.

According to the AP, Begaye said of the federal government “they have not done a thing” to help the Navajo Nation.

Begaye also said the Navajo Nation would be seeking “millions” in the lawsuit.

The state of New Mexico already announced a lawsuit against the federal government and another against the state of Colorado for damages related to the spill.

The New Mexico Environment Department has been outspoken in their criticism of the federal government over the spill and the reaction.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both Democrats, issued statements supporting the Navajo Nation’s efforts for compensation over damages.

“I’m extremely disappointed that a year after the spill, the EPA still has not come close to fully compensating those who were harmed,” Udall said. “That is way too long, and the Navajo people are understandably angry. I share their anger.”

“It’s been over a year and families are still feeling the economic impacts and health uncertainties of the Gold King Mine spill,” Heinrich said. “The pace of reimbursement to those impacted by this terrible incident is unacceptable. The EPA must fully compensate victims of the spill for their losses and provide a better process for filing claims.”