More money is coming to local, state and tribal entities affected by the Gold King Mine spill, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday on the event’s one-year anniversary.
La Plata County will receive $99,000, which chips away at the estimated $250,000 the local government claims the EPA owes for costs related to the spill.
The county summed it up on its Twitter account: “Still more to go but making progress.”
A total of $258,000 will go to Utah, $161,000 to Colorado, $106,000 to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, $445,000 to the Navajo Nation and $43,000 each to the city of Durango and San Juan County, for a total of about $1.2 million in the most recent reimbursements awarded by the EPA.
“It’s exciting that another increment is being advanced to the municipalities, state and tribes, though we still haven’t heard anything relative to compensating the local businesses,” Durango City Councilor Dean Brookie said. “However, I remain confident that between ourselves and the help of Senators (Cory) Gardner and (Michael) Bennet, we will continue to keep the pressure on the EPA.”
Since the spill, the federal agency has repaid more than $3 million to affected entities, with officials repeating that they will continue to evaluate claims. An additional $2 million in Clean Water Act grants also have been awarded.
No funds have been awarded to businesses that suffered when the Animas River was temporarily closed to recreation. In a recent meeting with La Plata County and Durango leaders, EPA officials had no answers as to when the businesses might see some money.
The latest reimbursement covers costs associated with response, including field evaluations, water sampling, lab analyses and personnel, according to an EPA news release.
“The announcement of this funding is certainly a step in the right direction as Southwest Colorado continues to deal with the aftermath of this disaster,” Bennet said in a prepared statement. “These resources will be welcome news to communities still recovering, but plenty of work remains to ensure they are fully reimbursed. We will continue to push EPA to prioritize completing this reimbursement process as soon as possible.”
Gardner added in a prepared statement that he looked forward to the Inspector General’s report on the criminal investigation of the EPA, and urged the agency to address all outstanding claims.
“In the meantime, I will continue to fight for the transparency and accountability that Coloradans expect and deserve, and that includes making sure all individuals, businesses and localities are wholly compensated,” he said.