Friday, April 29, 2016

EPA: La Plata County won’t get full reimbursement for Gold King

Environmental Protection Agency officials told dismayed La Plata County commissioners on Wednesday not to expect compensation for some Gold King Mine spill costs. For seven months, county staff has sunk several hundred hours into drafting a cooperative agreement asking the EPA to fund up to $2.4 million over 10 years for spill-related costs and preparation measures for future emergencies. Others, including tribal communities and the state of New Mexico, have drafted similar documents asking for a long-term river monitoring system. But EPA officials said Wednesday the cooperative agreement program is not designed to cover anticipated expenses. Furthermore, the federal agency ended its emergency response activities on Oct. 31, and is using that date as a reimbursement cutoff for response costs. And, the agency is considering its own future costs to evaluate and clean the mining district that has been recommended for Superfund status. “The intent is not that this co-op agreement would cover future activities,” Superfund remedial program director Bill Murray said. “For Superfund sites, we don’t often have future costs included. The program is not designed to provide for a lot of what is in there.” The cooperative agreement outlines several tasks or funding requests. The EPA reimbursed the county for one task – $9,700 for a tour of regional Superfund sites – and is evaluating another – costs incurred from Aug. 6 through Dec. 31, 2015, that total $249,224. Earlier this year, the county received about $200,000 from the EPA for costs incurred immediately after the spill. But Murray said the EPA won’t cover continued monitoring of spill effects and water quality, a future response plan, continued outreach and public education. County staff said the EPA is contradicting itself, having told the county months ago to cast a wide net of demands in the cooperative agreement...more

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