Gold King Mine disaster claims to be fully reviewed by month’s end, EPA chief Scott Pruitt says
WASHINGTON — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday he plans to have reviewed by month’s end a stack of about 400 claims filed mostly by residents of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation over damages they sustained during the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster.
That’s not to say the checks will arrive soon — Pruitt and his staff didn’t give a timeline for when Uncle Sam might pay up for the government’s role in releasing 3 million gallons of contaminated water into the Animas River watershed near Silverton.
But Pruitt said that he and the legal team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are aiming this month to make recommendations on all 400 claims, including about 70 that initially were rejected by the EPA on the grounds the agency had sovereign immunity from this kind of legal action.
“This agency, and more particularly the U.S. government, caused harm to citizens in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah and it had not taken steps to address that,” said Pruitt, speaking to a small group of reporters in his Washington, D.C., office.
EPA officials said the claims — filed by businesses, residents and local governments — range from about $100 into the tens of millions of dollars. If the amount of a successful claim is less than $2,500, the money will come from the EPA. Anything more than that would come from a special federal fund created to pay out claims against the government.
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