In 2015, the EPA accidentally triggered the Gold King Mine spill, releasing toxic and acidic chemicals into surrounding waters, only to be cleared of wrongdoing shortly after. Now, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is looking to make amends, re-evaluating rejected damage claims, reports The Denver Post.
“Farmers and ranchers, business owners, the recreational activities that occur on the Animas River – all were impacted, and from my perspective, it was a wrong that we need to make right,” said Pruitt to The Denver Post. “I’ve already sent out a letter to all the claimants who have filed claims asking them to resubmit.”
In January, the EPA declared it would not pay damage claims, determining the team that caused the spill was protected under sovereign immunity.
“I think it’s safe to say if this had been any other company, a BP-type of a situation, there would have been an investigation that would ensue by the agency, and there would have been accountability,” Pruitt told the Denver Post. “That didn’t take place here. The federal government should not be able to hide behind sovereign immunity when the facts don’t meet the protections.”
Pruitt visited the site of the spill on August 4 with Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.