By Lillian Tweten
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied two-thirds of the damage claims associated with the 2015 Gold King Mine spill near Silverton, Colorado, CBS News reported on Monday.
The EPA was working on improving the water quality of the Animas River next to the Gold King Mine in 2015 when agency employees accidentally pierced part of the mine’s wall, releasing three million gallons of contaminated water into the river, according to an investigation by the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The agency recently rejected two-thirds of the nearly 100 claims filed, giving a maximum of $2,500 to the approved claims, CBS News reported.
“While the EPA regrets the loss, the claim does not meet the standards for coverage under the Federal Tort Claims Act,” the EPA wrote in a letter to one of the individuals who submitted a claim, The Durango Herald, a local outlet, reported. “Accordingly, the claim is denied.”
The EPA refused in 2017 to give any federal assistance to the areas affected by the Gold King Mine spill, according to USA Today. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt promised to reverse the agency’s decision when he assumed office in 2017, and said the agency would provide help to the victims affected by the spill, The Denver Post reported.
“When I was appointed Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I committed to review a decision by the previous administration regarding the Gold King Mine incident that left so many impacted people without support or help from the federal government,” Pruitt said in a letter sent in June 2017 to individuals who had submitted claims after the disaster. “The time has come for the EPA to deliver on that promise.”
Pruitt resigned in 2018, according to the Durango Herald.
“They told us to take our time and use our resources to prepare these claims so that they could provide restitution to the damage they caused,” Alex Mickel, a business owner whose claim was denied by the EPA, told the Herald.
Tom Knopick, another business owner who did not receive EPA help, “suffered significant losses and required extensive loans to survive the year,” he told CBS.
Businesses and individuals filed for $1.3 million in damages two months after the incident, according to The Durango Herald. Individuals who were rejected will have six months to appeal the EPA’s decision in federal court, according to CBS.
The EPA did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Lillian Tweten is a contributor to The Daily Caller.
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To read more about the Gold King spill, click here.
To read more about Colorado water resources, click here.