New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez blasted the EPA for accidentally flooding the Animas River with toxic orange wastewater, calling on the agency to hold itself to the same standard for the disaster as it would a private entity.
“Imagine what would happen if a private company caused this waste spill,” the Republican governor said in a Friday 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.
An EPA team inadvertently unplugged one million gallons of wastewater during an assessment project at the inactive Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, sending contaminated orange fluid down Cement Creek and into the Animas River, which crosses into New Mexico.
Ms. Martinez said she was “disturbed by the lack of information provided by the EPA,” noting that she was not informed of the spill until 9:30 a.m. Thursday, even though the release was first reported at 10:40 a.m. Wednesday.
When she did get the information, it came from the Southern Ute Tribe, not the EPA, she said.
“I am very concerned by this massive waste spill in the Animas River in Colorado that EPA officials have admitted to causing,” Ms. Martinez said. “I have ordered my agencies to work with local and federal officials to ensure the health and safety of New Mexicans is protected.”
“I hope the EPA will be more cooperative and forthcoming moving forward as we work to address this situation,” she said.
The EPA Region 8 administrator Shaun McGrath called the accident “tragic” at a packed public meeting Friday in Durango, Colorado, aimed at answering questions about the environmental disaster.