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News Releases from Region 09

EPA provides $602,000 to Navajo Nation Government for Gold King Mine response costs

Contact Information: 
Margot Perez-Sullivan (perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov)

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding more than $445,000 to reimburse the Navajo Nation for response costs for actions associated with the August 5, 2015 Gold King Mine release near Silverton, Colo.  This is in addition to $157,000 awarded in March.  These funds include costs incurred for various activities associated with the release response, including field evaluations, water quality sampling, laboratory analyses, and personnel. 

EPA continues to evaluate state, tribal and local response costs and has reimbursed approximately $3 million to date through cooperative agreements established with partners. 

Today’s announcement is part of EPA’s ongoing evaluation of costs consistent with the Agency’s authorities and the requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund.  The funds made available this week reimburse documented and allowable response costs submitted by the Navajo Nation, including over $130,000 to support activities of the Navajo Nation Emergency Operations Center, over $72,000 for drinking water monitoring and hauling, and over $71,000 to support site visits to farmers by the Navajo Department of Agriculture to assess needs for agricultural water and feed during the response.

One year after the Gold King Mine release, EPA continues to invest resources and work collaboratively with impacted stakeholders to achieve permanent solutions to issues associated with abandoned mines, prevent future releases, and protect water resources.  The Agency has dedicated more than $29 million to respond to the incident and provide for continued water quality monitoring in the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The majority of these funds are being used to stabilize the mine and mitigate ongoing acid mine drainage at the Gold King Mine.  EPA is also providing more than $2.6 million to states and tribes to develop a better understanding of the overall water quality conditions in the Animas and San Juan rivers and support real-time monitoring of water resources and to improve the notification process for any future incidents. The Navajo Nation has received $465,000 towards that effort.

Contamination from more than 160,000 abandoned mines in the West continues to pose costly and complex challenges for the region’s states, tribes and communities.  EPA is collaborating with partners on the best practices and lessons to address the legacy of abandoned mines.  The Upper Animas Watershed has historically received high loadings of metals associated with the discharge of 5.4 million gallons per day from mining, highly mineralized formations, and mines in the area.  For the communities impacted by the decades of contaminated mine drainage into the Animas and San Juan River watersheds, EPA has proposed a Superfund National Priorities Listing for the Bonita Peak Mining District, which includes the Gold King Mine, and is committed to pursuing collaborative approaches to improve water quality impacted by pollution that crosses state and tribal borders. 

For more information on EPA’s Gold King Mine efforts, visit: https://www.epa.gov/goldkingmine