FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 23, 2016
Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216
Santa Fe, NM – This afternoon, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and the New Mexico Environment Department filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), its contractor and two Colorado mine owners in response to the Gold King Mine Spill’s devastating impact on the State. New Mexico, in addition to the State of Utah, the Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Tribe, suffered catastrophic environmental, public health and economic damage due to the release of hazardous substances into the Animas River. Since the incident occurred, the State of New Mexico has been in communication with the EPA but the parties have not been able to mutually agree on a monitoring plan that appropriately protects New Mexico and surrounding tribal lands.
“The release of hazardous substances into waters that are the lifeblood of our economy and culture in New Mexico has had a devastating impact on our historical rural, agricultural and tribal communities,” said Attorney General Balderas. “It is inappropriate for the EPA to impose weak testing standards in New Mexico and I am demanding the highest testing standards that the EPA would impose in any other state in the nation to protect the health and well-being of our citizens. Additionally, remediation and compensation dollars have been far too minimal for these very special agricultural and cultural communities who depend on this precious water source for irrigation and drinking water. They must be properly compensated and there must be appropriate independent monitoring to prevent future dangers to public health and the economy.”
The plume of contamination from the Gold King Mine release carried over 888,000 pounds of toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium, copper, mercury and zinc into New Mexico. The sources of ongoing and future discharges pose imminent and long-term health risks to the New Mexican people – particularly residents, farmers, ranchers and recreational users of the Animas and San Juan Rivers. They also threaten fish, invertebrates, plants and the environment of New Mexico.
See attached for a copy of the lawsuit that was filed in federal court today.
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