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New lawsuit against EPA for Gold King Mine spill

Colorado’s Animas River turned a shade of yellow after the Gold King Mine spill in August 2015. (Image from archives)

Almost 300 Navajo farmers and ranchers filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as against eight EPA subcontractors and mining companies and subsidiaries involved in the 2015 Gold King Mine spill.

The accident at the ancient Colorado mine took place after an EPA’s clean-up team working at the site accidentally caused the spill of over 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater. After nine hours of a continuous flow, the plume ended up polluting the Animas River and its tributaries in New Mexico and Utah with the equivalent of four to seven days of ongoing acid drainage from the mine.

According to the Associated Press, in their lawsuit, the farmers and ranchers claim that they lost crops and livestock and had to pay to haul clean water because the spill prevented them from using water from the polluted rivers. They are asking for $75 million in compensation for their losses.

The new lawsuit was presented just a week after the federal agency announced that it is still reviewing almost 400 claims for losses incurred by individuals, business and communities as a consequence of the spill that left the rivers filled with metals, particularly iron and aluminum.

The EPA did not say when the victims, most of whom submitted compensation requests under the Federal Tort Claims Act, will get paid.