- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In her first public comments since Environmental Protection Agency crews unleashed toxic mine sludge into the Animas River, agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Tuesday the incident “pains me to no end” and she pledged that the federal government will do whatever it takes to restore water quality in the region.

“It is really a tragic and very unfortunate incident, and EPA is taking responsibility to ensure that the spill is cleaned up,” she said in a speech at Resources For the Future, a Washington energy and environmental research group. “It pains me to no end that this is happening. But we’re working tirelessly to respond, and we’ve committed to a full review of exactly what happened to ensure it can never happen again.”

Last week, contractors working for the EPA accidentally breached a dam at Colorado’s Gold King Mine, sending about 3 million gallons of contaminated water into the river. The pollution now has spread to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

The agency has taken full responsibility for the incident and has begun a massive cleanup effort.

The White House this week would not comment on the incident, instead directing all questions to the EPA. Ms. McCarthy said she remains in close contact with the White House.

“We’ve kept the White House fully informed,” she said.

Ms. McCarthy also said preliminary signs indicate the Animas River’s water quality is returning to normal after the toxic sludge flows through.

“As the plume has advanced, we’re seeing elevated levels and as it moves we’re seeing a downward trajectory to pre-event conditions,” she said.

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