Thursday, December 10, 2015

Jewell: No 'criminal activity' in mine spill

Republicans alleged a “whitewash” of a Colorado mining accident that unleashed 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater and requested a nonpartisan investigation after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday she’d seen no evidence of criminal negligence in the case. The spill was triggered by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew doing excavation work in August at the inactive Gold King mine near Silverton, Colorado. It fouled rivers in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico with contaminants including arsenic and lead, temporarily shutting down drinking water supplies and raising concerns about long-term impacts to agriculture. Immediately after Wednesday’s hearing, Committee Chairman Rob Bishop asked Congress’s non-partisan Government Accountability Office to investigate the Interior Department’s evaluation of what happened. The Utah Republican accused Jewell and other agency officials of stonewalling his repeated efforts to obtain documents relevant to the spill. Bishop also questioned why the authors of the Interior evaluation included an agency official, civil engineer Michael Gobla, who discussed cleanup work at Gold King with EPA prior to the spill. Gobla also worked with the EPA during its response to the accident. “How can you claim this report was even remotely independent?” Bishop asked...more

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