Utah plans to sue EPA over Animas River spill

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Three million gallons of heavy metal filled with wastewater spilled into the Animas River in southern Colorado beginning August 5, 2015, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Levels of lead in at least one water sample tested 12,000 times higher than normal. So far, the spill has affected three states: Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Credit: Tom Bartles

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office said Friday it planned to file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over last year’s Gold King Mine spill in Colorado’s Animas River that made its way into Utah.

In a statement, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the EPA failed to share recent test results of elevated metals in the San Juan River. He said they would press forward with a lawsuit, but hoped for a settlement.

“After the spill, we waited to take legal action because in good faith we hoped that cooperation with the EPA could bring more rapid reimbursement and remediation. Perhaps there is a still a chance for that to happen, but Utah needs to be in a position to file a lawsuit if the federal government is not more responsive and transparent. The discovery that the EPA did not share relevant information is a cause for serious concern and could lead to additional claims after we have fully investigated that omission,” Reyes said in the statement.

Reyes said Friday his office had put the federal government on notice for pending litigation.