- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2015

A House committee will hold next week the first congressional hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Animas River spill, but administrator Gina McCarthy won’t be there.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee said in a statement it will seek answers at the 10 a.m. Wednesday hearing on “how this disaster occurred and why the warning signs that should have prevented it were dismissed.”

Chairman Lamar Smith had called on Ms. McCarthy to testify, but her name was not on the list released Thursday of those slated to appear before the committee. Instead, Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, will represent the agency.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said in an email Thursday that Mr. Stanislaus is “uniquely qualified to represent the EPA” at the hearing.

An EPA-led crew accidentally uncorked 3 million gallons of orange wastewater Aug. 5 while working at the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, sending the toxic sludge down the Animas and San Juan rivers and cutting off drinking and irrigation water to users in Colorado, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.

“After spilling millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Animas River, the EPA has an obligation to be forthcoming about what went wrong and potential long-term impacts on local communities,” Mr. Smith said in a statement. “The Science Committee will hear from the EPA about steps it is taking to repair the damage and to prevent this from ever occurring again.”

The others scheduled to testify at the hearing are Dennis Greaney, president of Environmental Restoration, the EPA contractor on the job; Donald Benn, executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency; Durango Mayor Dean Brookie, and Mark Williamson, geochemist at Geochemical Solutions.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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