Mar 7, 2016 - Gold King Mine spill investigators were ordered to “stay clear” of the U.S. EPA’s negligence: Navajo Nation Responds



The Navajo Nation
Russell Begaye, President
Jonathan Nez, Vice President
Contact: Mihio Manus, Sr. Public Information Officer
Office of the President and Vice President
Phone: (928) 871-7728
Fax: (928)871-4025

Window Rock – President Russell Begaye issued the following statement today on reports that Gold King Mine spill investigators were ordered to “stay clear” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s negligence. The Daily Caller recently reported that emails obtained by the United States House Committee on Natural Resources suggest that Department of Interior investigators were ordered to avoid issues of EPA negligence.

“The Gold King Mine spill culturally and economically devastated the Navajo Nation, and the federal government’s failed response to this crisis has only added insult to injury. The documents obtained by the House Committee on Natural Resources are troubling and suggest that federal agencies investigating the spill have been instructed to turn a blind eye to the extent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s negligence. The Navajo Nation has long called for a truly independent investigation of the Gold King Mine Spill and has urged the administration to appoint an independent agency to oversee the response. The recent reports only further reinforce the Nation’s concerns about whether the EPA will accept responsibility for this disaster and work to make our people whole again.”

“The Navajo Nation has suffered due to the reckless actions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other responsible parties, and the Obama Administration has turned down virtually every request we have made for greater assistance, each time referring us back to the EPA.”

“Despite the federal government’s unwillingness to investigate the negligence of the U.S. EPA and other responsible parties, the Navajo Nation is committed to using all legal means possible to obtain full and fair recovery for our people.While this process is ongoing, our leaders in Washington need to ensure our people are compensated quickly and comprehensively.”

Animas River, before and after Gold King Mine spill

Editors note: On August 5th, environmental crew workers for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entered the Gold King Mine in southern Colorado to pump out and treat contaminated water from the mine. While using heavy equipment to enter the mine a massive leak erupted sending an estimated 3 million gallons of water contaminated with heavy metals into the Animas River. The waste-water contained high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, mercury, zinc, iron and copper. The Navajo Nation, which is downstream from the spill declared a state of emergency. The Animas and Saun Juan Rivers are major sources of drinking water for the Navajo and surrounding residents.

Last Real Indians