From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):
In a one-year retrospective released Monday by the EPA, the federal agency is careful to underscore how the state was involved in planning that led to the blowout, which turned the Animas mustard yellow and deposited heavy metals.
“Throughout the winter and spring of 2015, EPA and CDRMS (Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety) developed plans … During the 2014-2015 investigatory process with CDRMS, the EPA team concluded the GKM (Gold King Mine) adit was likely only partially full of water,” the report says…
The state has attempted to distance itself from planning that led to the blowout.
“DRMS did not have any authority to manage, assess, or approve any work at the Gold King Mine,” former Natural Resources Director Mike King wrote in a Sept. 2, 2015, letter to the EPA, just a week after an EPA internal report was released.
The issue is likely to be highlighted as the state defends itself against a lawsuit filed by New Mexico in the U.S. Supreme Court. The state has until Aug. 22 to respond…
The account does not offer much new information, largely recounting the circumstances that led to the Aug. 5, 2015, blowout, which the EPA described as an “inadvertent” release.
“EPA recognizes the impact that the GKM release had on the people of the Four Corners region,” the retrospective states. “The Agency has worked with affected residents, small businesses, universities, local governments, states and tribes in an extensive effort to assess and address the immediate and potential long-term impacts of the release on water quality in a region adversely impacted by a legacy of contaminated mine-influenced waters from abandoned and unstable hard-rock mines.”
It goes on to encourage Congress to approve a fee on the hard-rock mining industry to help cover costs associated with cleanups. The Republican-controlled Congress has expressed concerns with the proposal.
The EPA has dedicated more than $29 million to respond to the Gold King Mine spill and to provide monitoring in the area. A Superfund listing – which is likely to be approved as early as the fall – would inject millions more into cleanup efforts.