Udall Bill Calls For Mine Waste Clean Up, Compensation

September 23, 2015

The federal government would be required to identify the most dangerous abandoned mines in the West and make plans to clean them up under legislation introduced by members of New Mexico's congressional delegation.

Sen. Tom Udall announced the legislation Tuesday. The New Mexico Democrat says it's a response to the torrent of toxic wastewater from a Colorado mine that fouled rivers in three Western states.

The legislation also calls for compensation for communities affected by the spill and requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to monitor water quality of the Animas and San Juan rivers.

An EPA contractor accidentally triggered the spill of millions of gallons of wastewater in August as it was doing excavation work on the inactive Gold King mine near Silverton, Colorado.

The plume turned the Animas a sickly yellow color as the pollution tainted with heavy metals flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah.