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EPA chief tours Gold King mine on 2-year anniversary of spill caused by agency

DURANGO, Colo. -- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Colorado leaders toured the site of the Gold King mine spill on Friday to mark the second anniversary of the catastrophe that spill that dumped 3 million gallons of tainted wastewater into the Animas River.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, and Rep. Scott Tipton also toured the site above Silverton, and met with Pruitt and other representatives of the EPA.

They later held a town hall at the La Plata County administration building board room in Durango Friday afternoon.

A cleanup led by the EPA at the old gold mine on Aug. 5, 2015 dumped wastewater contaminated with arsenic and lead into the Animas River in southwest Colorado, turning it a shade of yellow.

The blowout sent water laced with toxic heavy metals through southwest Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The EPA took responsibility for the spill and has given millions of dollars to the area to help it recover.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute an EPA employee over the spill, saying it found evidence the employee might have violated the Clean Water Act and given false statements but sent the case to senior EPA management for its review.

The EPA designated the Gold King and 47 other sites in the area a Superfund district last year.

The Navajo Nation is suing the EPA for what it sees as negligence in cleaning up the disaster.