EPA under fire for failing to comply with mine spill probe

EPA under fire for failing to comply with mine spill probe

These images show the mouth of the Gold King Mine tunnel (left), and the channelled runoff on the mine dump (right). (Courtesy of EPA)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came under fire again Tuesday for failing to provide documents requested by a group of legislators in relation to the events that led to a massive spill from an abandoned gold mine in Colorado earlier this month.

In a letter dated Aug. 10, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee had requested EPA to turn over documents and a briefing on the toxic blowout. The deadline was Monday.

“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the EPA failed to meet the House Science Committee’s reasonable deadline in turning over documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine spill,” said committee chairman Lamar Smith.

EPA under fire for failing to comply with mine spill probe

The agency diverted the release into two newly built settling ponds where it was being treated with chemicals to lower its acidity and to filter out dissolved solids. (Courtesy of EPA)

The agency did release some documents requested by the committee publicly, but “has failed to turn over the majority of the requested documentation to date,” according to the committee’s e-mailed statement.

The committee has called on EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and the head of Environmental Restoration, the contractor on the project, to testify before the committee at its Sept. 9 hearing on the accident.

EPA under fire for failing to comply with mine spill probe

The probe aims to determine the agency’s role in triggering a 3-million-gallon toxic spill into Colorado’s Animas River on Aug. 5. It also intends to establish why the EPA took several days to notify the states of Utah, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation that the spill was coming their way.