Tuesday, August 02, 2016

EPA Watchdog Opens a Criminal Probe Into 2015 Colorado Spill

The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general has opened a criminal investigation into last summer’s massive mine-waste spill in Colorado’s Animas River, which was caused after one of its contracting firms accidentally triggered the release. On Monday, Republican lawmakers who had called for the criminal inquiry praised the investigation, which was disclosed Friday by the agency’s independent watchdog arm. Some lawmakers had accused the agency of not moving to hold itself accountable in the Aug. 5, 2015, spill at the Gold King Mine of three million gallons of toxic sludge into the river, which eventually empties into the Colorado River. The sludge turned the Animas mustard yellow for days, forcing thousands of river users to turn to alternate water supplies, as federal officials found high levels of toxicity from lead and arsenic. EPA officials eventually cleared the water for drinking and recreation, but warned that chemicals in the riverbed could be stirred up again and that a full cleanup could take years. The spill has prompted other legal actions in recent months, including a still-pending suit filed in federal court against the EPA by New Mexico over what state officials there call lingering contamination issues impacting its residents...more

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