Utah sues over Gold King Mine spill

SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Gold King Mine over the 2015 spill that contaminated the San Juan River.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, seeks damages from the operates of Colorado’s Gold King Mine, Sunnyside Gold Corp., as well as the company contracted to do cleanup efforts.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes alleges the companies failed to take precautions and resulted in the mine disaster that dumped waste into the Animas River that led to the San Juan River and ultimately, Lake Powell.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office also alleges there is a “stigma” attached to the spill.

“The State of Utah has suffered special injuries, which the public as a whole does not share. The State of Utah has and will continue to suffer lost economic activity, tax revenues, and stigmatic damages arising from these releases. This unlawful interference by the Defendants directly and proximately caused, and continues to cause, injury to the State and people of the State of Utah’s property and other legal interests,” the lawsuit claims.

The Environmental Protection Agency conceded it was responsible for the 2015 blowout as contractors did cleanup work on the mine. But the state of Utah is not suing the EPA.

“The EPA has stated that it takes responsibility for the blowout. The State is negotiating with the EPA to see if a settlement can be reached without the need for litigation,” Utah Attorney General’s spokesman Daniel Burton told FOX 13.

Damages from the mine spill are estimated in the hundreds of millions. Utah did not specify a dollar amount.