EPA Contractor That Caused Gold King Mine Spill Still On Clean-Up

<p>(Grace Hood/CPR News)</p>
<p>This view of the Gold King Mine on Aug. 9, 2015, shows orange wastewater  in a settling pond.</p>

The Environmental Protection Agency contractor whose staff caused the Gold King Mine spill near Durango is still working on the clean-up.

That information came up during a joint congressional hearing between the House Oversight Committee and House Natural Resources Committee Thursday. The committees spent most of their time grilling EPA head Gina McCarthy before moving on to a much more friendly discussion with the four state and tribal witnesses.

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, pushed to get EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to explain why the contractor is still on Gold King project.

"They are a very experienced contractor, we have no information that says they had done anything wrong,” McCarthy said.

“Just a big yellow plume,” retorted Walberg.

Later, Colorado’s Southern Ute tribe said they are concerned that the Gold King mine spill could have a negative impact on tourism in southwestern Colorado.

McCarthy said her staff has already received some claims from rafting companies and other small businesses that say they were harmed by the closure of the river immediately after the spill.

Southern Ute tribal council member Mike Olguin told the House hearing that his community is concerned the spill will keep people away from the tribe’s casino.

"Particularly when you have the world news saying, 'here’s a toxic waste site,' well, it scares people. People cancel reservations, people cancel trips," Olguin said.