The EPA’s response to spilling toxic water into the Colorado River was to do nothing for 24 hours. Can you imagine if a private company had done something like this? Does the EPA fine itself now? The only thing I’m sure of is the EPA administrator who’s responsible for this should be fired but won’t be…

The EPA is known for its hard line on environmental offenders, but its own accountability is being challenged after its agents unleashed a disastrous toxic spill threatening water supplies in four Western states and two Indian reservations.

The agency revised Sunday its estimate on the spill from 1 million gallons to 3 million as regional officials came under fire for waiting 24 hours before alerting authorities that a crew at the Gold King Mine had accidentally uncorked the orange, acidic brew now spreading from Colorado to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

“There is widespread frustration with the EPA’s initial response and the lack of information coming out of the agency — the poor communication is unacceptable,” said Rep. Scott R. Tipton, Colorado Republican. “If a mining operator or other private business caused the spill to occur, the EPA would be all over them.

“The EPA admits fault, and as such must be accountable and held to the same standard,” Mr. Tipton said.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said Sunday that he will sue the EPA for “millions of dollars.” The reservation sits in the path of the contaminated water via the San Juan River, which merges with the Animas in New Mexico.

“We are going to make EPA pay for this,” Mr. Begaye told the Navajo Times.

EPA Region 8 administrator Shaun McGrath took responsibility for the spill Saturday, but the agency is receiving little sympathy from Western lawmakers and others who have found themselves too often pleading for mercy from the EPA for less-egregious violations.

“Imagine what would happen if a private company caused this waste spill,” New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement.

“This was caused by the EPA and the EPA should demand the same of itself as it would of a private business responsible for such a spill, particularly when it comes to making information available to the public and state and local officials,” she said.

Read more: WT

Join The Conversation: Leave a Comment