From the Associated Press (Dan Elliott) via the Farmington Daily Times:
New tests on water sent to Navajo Nation farmers after millions of gallons of waste spilled from a Colorado mine indicate that the emergency supply met federal and tribal standards for livestock and irrigation, federal officials say.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results Tuesday, two months after farmers and Navajo officials said the water delivered by a contractor contained oil and was not suitable for use. The new results were consistent with earlier tests, the agency said.
The water was delivered in tanks after mustard-yellow wastewater laced with heavy metals spewed from the inactive Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado on Aug. 5, polluting the Animas and San Juan rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, including on the Southern Ute Reservation and the Navajo Reservation.
It was sent for Navajo farmers who use water from the San Juan for irrigation. An EPA-led crew inadvertently triggered the 3 million-gallon spill while doing cleanup work at the mine.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said Thursday that he was glad the EPA released the test results, but he again said a number of the tanks contained petroleum residue, rust and other contaminants.
“Navajo farmers and ranchers could not use the water without further assurances,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “All told, Navajo farmers were left without water for over two weeks while the (Navajo) Nation awaited preliminary test results from the tanks.”
Separately, the EPA said a temporary treatment plant is ready to start cleansing metals from wastewater still draining from the mine.