EPA contractor behind Colorado mine spill got $381 million from taxpayers

EPA contractor behind Colorado mine spill got $381 million from taxpayers
Credit: Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

The Environmental Protection Agency may have been trying to hide the identity of the contracting company responsible for causing a major wastewater spill in southern Colorado, but the Wall Street Journal has revealed that information.

Environmental Restoration, LLC (ER), a Missouri-based firm, was the “contractor whose work caused a mine spill in Colorado that released an estimated 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into a major river system,” the Journal was told by a source familiar with the matter. The paper also found government documents that corroborate the contractor’s identity.

So far, the EPA has refused publicly to name the company hired to plug abandoned mines in southern Colorado, despite numerous attempts by the Daily Caller News Foundation and other media outlets to learn its identity. It is unclear why the agency chose not to reveal the contractor’s name.

What is clear, however, is that ER received $381 million in government contracts since October 2007, according to a Journal review of data from USAspending.gov. About $364 million of that funding came from the EPA, but only $37 million was given to ER for work they had done in Colorado.

When contacted by phone, ER informed theDCNF that its offices had closed for the day. The EPA did not return a request for comment on the Journal’s story revealing the identity of the agency’s contractor.

ER contractors reportedly caused a massive wastewater spill from the Gold King Mine in southern Colorado last week. EPA-supervised workers breached a debris dam while using heavy equipment and unleashed 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into Cement Creek. The toxic plume eventually reached the Animas River where it’s been able to spread even further, forcing Colorado and New Mexico to declare a state of emergency.

The EPA has taken responsibility for the spill and has officials on the ground working with local officials to remedy the situation. Still, local officials and members of the Navajo Nation are furious with the EPA over the spill and have not ruled out legal action to make sure the agency remains accountable.

“No agency could be more upset about the incident happening, and more dedicated in doing our job to get this right,” EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a press conference in Durango, Colorado Wednesday. “We couldn’t be more sorry. Our mission is to protect human health and the environment. We will hold ourselves to a higher standard than anyone else.”

This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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