EPA faces first lawsuit over Colorado mine spill
The state of New Mexico plans to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over last year’s toxic Colorado mining spill that sent 3 million gallons of waste into the Animas and San Juan rivers.
In a notice of intent to sue filed by the state Thursday, officials claim the EPA is to blame for the the consequences of the blowout at the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado, which caused the massive spill last August.
Officials have yet to tally the total damage from the accident, but they say the EPA has repeatedly failed in its duties to protect the state and its residents.
"From the very beginning, the EPA failed to hold itself accountable in the same way that it would a private business," Ryan Flynn, secretary of New Mexico's Environment Department, said in a statement.
"The EPA caused an unprecedented disaster that may affect our state for years to come," he added.
The state is also suing Colorado and the owner of the abandoned mine for their roles in the spill, which happened as an EPA clean-up crew was working at the abandoned Gold King mine.
New Mexico’s imminent lawsuit is believed to be the first formal intention to sue the EPA over the accident.
An earlier probe conducted by the US Department of the Interior concluded the spill, while avoidable, was “clearly unintentional.”
The agency has said it does not expect any negative health effects from exposure to the water and that the risk of adverse impacts to livestock is low. EPA has also said that it has not uncovered any food-safety concerns related to agricultural contamination.