Amended complaint adds EPA and other parties to list of defendants
SALT LAKE CITY January 5, 2018 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed an amended complaint yesterday in the Gold King Mine blowout lawsuit. The amendment adds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States, and Weston Solutions, Inc., one of EPA’s contractors, as defendants.
Triggered on August 5, 2015, by the EPA and its contractors, the uncontrolled blowout of the Gold King Mine dumped over three million gallons of acid wastes and toxic metals, depositing hazardous wastes along the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The plume reached Lake Powell in Utah just nine days later on August 14, 2015.
“We will continue to work closely with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice to assess and monitor damages, devise a remediation plan or other remedies, and attempt to settle this case,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “The amended complaint was necessary to preserve the legal rights of Utah and its citizens and should not be interpreted as a breakdown in settlement discussions. Those negotiations are on-going to work out a settlement unique to Utah and commensurate with the harm.”
“The Gold King Mine blowout was an avoidable disaster, and it is critical that those responsible clean up the wastes and compensate Utah for the damages,” said Spencer Austin, Chief Criminal Deputy of the Utah Attorney General’s Office. “We are in talks with the EPA and hope to reach a resolution soon. Settlement in cases of this magnitude often takes years. If litigation should become necessary, the Utah Attorney General’s Office is ready for a fight. But our hope is to reach an agreement to work together with the EPA to protect our environment.”
With the amended complaint, the lawsuit names ten parties as defendants, including three EPA contractors and four mine owners.
Throughout the process, the State of Utah has been cooperative with the EPA, yet aggressive in holding that agency responsible for its actions. This cooperative approach has already paid dividends for the State of Utah and its people. For example, more than a million dollars has been reimbursed by the EPA to Utah for expenditures related to initial emergency response and monitoring. The EPA under the Pruitt Administration has been particularly responsive and willing to take responsibility for the mining blowout.
A copy of the First Amended Complaint can be found through this link.
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