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EPA Requests Dismissal of Gold King Mine Lawsuit

Jay Canode
The Gold King Mine spill turned the water of Cement Creek and the San Juan River watershed into an infamous rusty yellow.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit on the Gold King Mine spill that polluted the Animas and San Juan Rivers in 2015. 

Nearly three years after the accident took place, the agency requested that court intervention is not necessary as they are already cleaning up the area. The lawsuits, all transferred to federal court and held in Albuquerque, come from Utah, New Mexico and Navajo Nation. The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages from the EPA and its contractors, according to an April report from Associated Press.


New Mexico also moved to sue Colorado but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case last year. New Mexico alleged that Colorado had a history of mismanagement in the cleanup of toxic sites.


The accidental spill came from an inactive mine during cleanup by a contracted agency crew. Approximately 3 million gallons of wastewater that included toxins and heavy metal — iron among them, with oxidation giving the river its infamous yellow color — poured first into the Animas River watershed. From there, the contaminated water affected irrigation, livestock and drinking water across the Four Corners.

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