New Mexico wants the federal government to pay as much as $155 million for problems caused by the Gold King Mine spill in southwest Colorado last August.
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The state sued the Environmental Protection Agency, contractor Environmental Restoration LLC, and owners of the Gold King Mine as defendants. It's the first state to take this kind of legal action.
An EPA-supervised contractor crew accidentally caused the 3 million wastewater spill north of Durango, which flowed into New Mexico and Utah. The EPA has claimed full responsibility for the spill.
According to the lawsuit:
“Agriculture ground to a halt. Potable water was hauled in a truck for human and livestock consumption. Tens of thousands of local residents, farmers, anglers, and tourists could not access or enjoy the rivers. The reputation of New Mexico’s prized sports fishing waters—some of the world’s finest—was tarnished.”
New Mexico officials say that about $130 million would go toward economic damages, $17 million would be spent on a marketing fund to promote the state’s image, and $6 million would be spent on long-term water quality monitoring. About $1 million would help recoup emergency response costs at the time of the spill.
New Mexico isn’t the only state struggling with covering costs associated with the spill. La Plata County, in Colorado, reports a deficit of nearly $185,849 spent on wages, benefits and water quality monitoring since the spill. San Juan County reports that it’s seeking reimbursement for $357,363 for spill-related expenses through Feb. 29, 2016.