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EPA Update on Gold King Mine Response Efforts for August 20, 2015

EPA participated in a public meeting/open house in Durango hosted by San Juan County, CO. EPA was invited to present an overview of the response and to provide residents with information at breakout sessions covering recreation, economic, health, agriculture, and drinking water.

EPA Staff Deployed

EPA currently has deployed more than 210 employees and contractors for the response. The U.S. Coast Guard has provided 14 responders. There are also currently at least 20 different state and local agencies involved in the response working to help ensure the health and safety of the public.

Mine Discharge Treatment

The Gold King Mine is releasing water at the rate of approximately 544 gallons per minute. Water is captured and treated at a system of impoundments before being discharged to Cement Creek.

Unified Command in Durango, Colorado

EPA has completed testing of 105 private drinking water wells along the Animas River in Colorado. Of these, only seven samples exceeded drinking water standards. EPA is working directly with well owners to further investigate these wells. It is currently unknown if the exceedances were caused by the mine release.

Unified Command in Farmington, New Mexico

New Mexico

Ten teams of EPA, New Mexico Environment Department and EPA contractors sampled thirty‐eight private water wells. EPA collected 9 surface water and sediment samples from the drinking water intake locations. Data is being posted on the www.epa.gov/goldkingmine web site.

Navajo Nation

Based on EPA surface water data collected following the August 5, 2015, Gold King Mine release, the San Juan River water quality in Navajo Nation has returned to pre-event conditions.  EPA and Navajo have agreed that Friday August 21, 2015, would be the last day for EPA water deliveries for agricultural use on the Navajo Nation. EPA will work closely with the Navajo Nation in the coming weeks to ensure that a long-term monitoring plan for the San Juan River is implemented. In addition, EPA is positioned to provide technical assistance in flushing irrigation ditches on the Navajo Nation.

Arizona/Utah

EPA is collecting water and sediment samples from Lake Powell near the inlet of the San Juan River. Given the recent sampling results of reduced metals in the plume, EPA expects no significant impacts to Lake Powell associated with the Gold King Mine release.


Claims Process 

A claims process exists for compensating citizens who suffer personal injury or property damage caused by negligence of the U.S. government.

The process is available in EPA's regulations at 40 CFR Part 10, and includes guidance on documentation that may be required to support claims for loss of employment and loss of income, among other claims.

Claims for monetary compensation may be filed by submitting a Standard Form 95 specifying the nature of the loss suffered and EPA actions, if known, causing the loss or damage to property.

EPA is not offering immediate reimbursements for damages from the Gold King Mine water and it is not true that if someone submits a claim that by doing so they limit or waive future rights.

EPA’s Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) regulation provides that a person may amend their claim form at any time prior to reaching a settlement with EPA, or before the person files a lawsuit under the FTCA. Additionally, a person claiming an injury or damage has two years from the date of the event to file a claim with EPA under the FTCA. (40 CFR Part 10).

Standard Form 95 is not required to present a claim under the FTCA, but it is a convenient format for supplying the information necessary to bring an FTCA claim. Please note that a completed form must state a claim for money damages in a “sum certain” amount (that is, a specific amount) claimed for personal injury, death, or injury to or loss of property. In addition, if a sum certain is not specified in Standard Form 95 block 12d, or in accompanying information, a submission cannot be considered a valid presentation of a claim.

Although EPA's regulations state that it has six months to resolve a claim, EPA will make every effort to respond to Gold King Mine release claims as soon as possible. Claims must be presented to EPA within two years after the date of event.

Complete the fillable PDF version of Standard Form 95 here.