- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2015

DENVER — The Environmental Protection Agency took flak Thursday for another spill from a clean-up project at a Colorado mine, this time a relatively small discharge at the Standard Mine near Crested Butte.

Josh Green, spokesman for Rep. Scott Tipton, Colorado Republican, said local officials have confirmed that more than 2,000 gallons of reportedly uncontaminated water were spilled from the mine site Wednesday into a local watershed.

Mr. Tipton said the accident, coming on the heels of the Aug. 5 blowout at the Gold King Mine, raises more questions about the agency’s competence and commitment to transparency.

He said the EPA has yet to notify his office a day after the accident, which was first reported Thursday by the Crested Butte News.

“While initial reports are that the water was not contaminated, another spill caused by the actions of the EPA calls further into question this agency’s ability to adequately execute these types of projects,” Mr. Tipton said in a statement.

The agency is under investigation by the Interior Department after uncorking more than 3 million gallons of orange wastewater from the inactive Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, which contaminated water supplies in Colorado and New Mexico along the Animas and San Juan rivers.

SEE ALSO: EPA accused at hearing of doctoring video from Gold King Mine spill

Agency officials were criticized for failing to notify local authorities for 24 hours after the accident. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy apologized afterward for the accident and has assured the affected communities that the agency will clean up the mess and compensate locals for their losses.

“It is troubling and frustrating that the spill occurred yesterday and once again the EPA did not notify our office,” Mr. Tipton said.

The EPA press office did not return immediately a message left Thursday requesting comment.

In a statement, the town of Crested Butte said an EPA contractor had been working on the mine when “a vacuum truck siphoning clear water from the surface of the pond accidentally dipped into gray-colored sediment ,” which led to the “accidental discharge of sediment and gray-colored water into Elk Creek.

The discharge contained PH-neutral rock slurry and water from the mine, but the town Department of Public Works “has determined that any impact to the town’s drinking water would be negligible,” based on “the size and content of the spilled material as understood from the EPA.”

The EPA also reported the spill to officials in Gunnison County, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Coal Creek Watershed Alliance.

The Crested Butte News said Thursday on Facebook that “approximately 2,400 gallons of water spilled from a containment pond into the watershed Wednesday.”

“There is no threat to human health as a result of the spill,” the newspaper said.

Even so, the report drew several skeptical comments from readers. “Relax everybody! The EPA says everything is hunky dory!” Donna Davenport said.

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