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Utah seeks $1.9bn compensation from EPA for Gold King Mine spill

EBR Staff Writer Published 10 August 2017

The US state of Utah is seeking a compensation of $1.9bn from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for damages and cleanup costs relating to the Gold King Mine spill in 2015.

In this regard, the Utah Attorney General’s Office had made a filing which blames the EPA and its contractor crew for releasing nearly three million gallons of contaminated toxic water from the defunct Colorado gold mine into Cement Creek.

The toxic mine waste water from Cement Creek entered into the Animas River downstream followed up by the San Juan River in Utah and eventually into Lake Powell, as per a report by FOX 13.

A filing from Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes read: “These toxins flowed into and contaminated locations and resources located in or beneficial to the State of Utah, including but not limited to the San Juan River and Lake Powell.

“The State seeks damages including but not limited to property damage and natural resource damages, loss of use, restoration, and recovery of all costs of response and assessment including legal fees.”

Cause of the toxic water spill is believed to be due to the breaching of the wall of Gold King Mine mine tunnel in southwestern Colorado at Silverton by EPA workers when they were in the process of investigating a wastewater seepage issue.

The EPA admitted responsibility for the spill having hired a contract crew to carry out clean up operations at the defunct mine. However, it declined to pay any compensation to over 70 claims relating to the environmental disaster citing sovereign immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).


Image: The Animas River between Silverton and Durango in Colorado, USA, within 24 hours of the 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill. Photo: courtesy of Riverhugger/Wikipedia.org.