The Latest: New Mexico calls out feds over mine spill
DENVER (AP) -- The latest in the Colorado mine spill (all times local):
The head of the New Mexico Environment Department is calling out federal officials for not quickly notifying the state of a toxic wastewater spill from an abandoned Colorado mine.
Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said Monday that there was no question the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not respond as quickly as it should have and must be held accountable.
A cleanup crew supervised by the EPA accidentally breached a debris dam at the old mine in southwest Colorado on Wednesday.
Flynn says New Mexico will stand with the Navajo Nation to ensure the EPA compensates everyone in the Four Corners region who has been affected by the spill.
The EPA released a statement Monday saying it was sharing information as quickly as possible with the public as its experts evaluate any effects of the spill.
The 3-million gallon spill contains lead, arsenic and other heavy metals. It affected the Animas and San Juan rivers in Colorado and New Mexico before reaching Utah.
Initial testing for heavy metals showed the levels may be high. Flynn says the EPA has agreed to do more comprehensive testing and needs to show it's committed to a long-term cleanup effort.
People are getting their well water tested in northwestern New Mexico after a plume of contaminated water spilled from a Colorado mine into the Animas River.
The New Mexico Environment Department partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin testing the water Monday.
The agencies are hoping to get a better understanding of the general quality of well water throughout the area.
The state has identified more than 1,100 domestic wells within 1.5 miles of the Animas and San Juan rivers.
Officials in San Juan County also are warning residents not to use river water. Water stations have been set up around the county where residents can fill up containers and get clean water for their livestock.
Donations of bottled water were coming in and the American Red Cross was working to get water to homeless people who live along the river and depend on it for bathing.
Shower facilities were also opened up for residents in need at the San Juan County fairgrounds.
In Utah, Cynthia Sequanna, a spokeswoman for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, says the park has started warning visitors to avoid drinking, swimming or boating on affected stretches of the San Juan River and Lake Powell until further notice.
Recreational businesses that depend on a Colorado river affected by a mine wastewater spill say they're losing thousands of dollars.
Drew Beezley is co-owner of 4 Corners Whitewater in Durango. He said Monday his company has cancelled 20 rafting trips on the Animas River so far. His 12 employees are out of work until the river is deemed safe to enter again.
Beezley says he's lost about $10,000 worth of business since the spill last week -- and during what promised to be a good rafting year because of heavy snowmelt.
Wild Rivers Expeditions, a river rafting company in Bluff, Utah, says they've lost about $7,000 in business after customers cancelled rafting trips over worries about heavy metal-laden wastewater making its way to the San Juan River in southern Utah.
On Wednesday, a cleanup crew supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accidentally breached a debris dam at an old mine, releasing 3 million gallons of wastewater that contains arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued a disaster declaration after millions of gallons of contaminated water spilled from a mine into the Animas River and was making its way to Lake Powell in Utah.
The declaration on Monday releases $500,000 to assist businesses and towns affected by the 3-million-gallon spill that contains heavy metals including lead and arsenic.
It also helps pay for water quality sampling by the state, assessing impacts on fish and wildlife, and any possible cleanup.
Hickenlooper directed state agencies to seek federal funds or low-interest loans to help entities affected by the spill.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to say if the metals pose a threat to human health, frustrating residents in Colorado and downstream in New Mexico and Utah.
On Wednesday, an EPA-supervised cleanup crew accidentally breached a debris dam that had formed inside Colorado's Gold King Mine, which has been inactive since 1923.
Farms along the Animas and San Juan river valleys in New Mexico have no water to irrigate their crops after a massive spill from a closed Colorado mine.
A family farm in Cedar Hill, New Mexico, that serves as many as 3,000 customers in the Four Corners region has been without water since some 3 million gallons of contaminated water spilled from the Gold King Mine last week.
D'rese Sutherland says if it doesn't rain by the weekend, 80 acres of chile, pumpkins and other produce will be in jeopardy at Sutherland Farms.
Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, asking that the agency develop a comprehensive plan for addressing those communities, farms and ranches that are without water.
The letter states the lack of water is already taking a toll on residents and their livelihoods.
Colorado authorities say there are no reports yet of harm to wildlife in that state five days after the release of millions of gallons of heavy metal-laden wastewater from a mine into the Animas River.
The state's Parks and Wildlife agency said Monday it had inserted cages with more than 100 fingerling trout into the river in southwest Colorado near Durango.
The fish are sensitive to changes in water quality. As of Monday, only one fish had died, but the agency said it didn't know if that was because of the metals in the water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to say if the metals, which include lead and arsenic, pose a threat to human health, frustrating residents and state and local officials in Colorado and downstream in New Mexico and Utah.
About 3 million gallons of wastewater from Colorado's Gold King Mine began spilling on Wednesday when an EPA-supervised cleanup crew accidentally breached a debris dam that had formed inside the mine.
The mine has been inactive since 1923.
Tribal officials with the Navajo Nation have declared an emergency as a massive plume of contaminated wastewater from an abandoned Colorado mine flows downstream toward Lake Powell, which supplies much of the water to the Southwest.
State environment officials in New Mexico and Utah say the plume is passing through the Navajo Nation and headed toward Montezuma Creek near the town of Bluff, a tourist destination.
Some drinking water systems on the Navajo Nation, which spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, have shut down their intake systems and stopped diverting water from the San Juan River.
Drinking water was being hauled to some communities.
Navajo President Russell Begaye says the tribe is frustrated with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and he plans to take legal action. An EPA supervised crew has been blamed for causing the spill while attempting to clean up the area.