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Utah wants $1.9 billion for Gold King Mine spill

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is seeking $1.9 billion in damages and cleanup costs for the Gold King Mine spill.

In a filing with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Utah Attorney General’s Office sought the money for the 2015 spill that began at Colorado’s Gold King Mine.

“These toxins flowed into and contaminated locations and resources located in or beneficial to the State of Utah, including but not limited to the San Juan River and Lake Powell. The State seeks damages including but not limited to property damage and natural resource damages, loss of use, restoration, and recovery of all costs of response and assessment including legal fees,” the filing states.

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)

More than three million gallons of toxins flowed from the mine into the Animas River, then into Utah’s San Juan River and ultimately into Lake Powell. The EPA, which hired a contract crew to clean up the mine, has admitted responsibility.

The state is seeking compensation for damages and cleanup costs. However, the filing does not state how the Utah Attorney General’s Office came to the $1.9 billion figure.

A spokesman for Reyes previously told FOX 13 the state was hoping to negotiate a settlement with the EPA for the spill. The Utah Attorney General’s Office previously sued a contractor over the spill.

Read the filing by the Utah Attorney General’s Office here: