Navajo President Plans to Sue EPA Over Mine Waste Spill
Navajo President Russell Begaye is concerned the plume of mine waste is contaminating the water his people depend on. Begaye says Navajo land sits on two thirds on the river banks affected by the spill and he says ranchers and farmers fear their livelihood is at stake.
“The farmers are saying to me: we just need two more irrigation waters to come through so that they can mature. The white corn, the blue corn they’re still not where they should be so they need water, if not they’re going to lose that whole crop,” said Begaye.
Begaye says that two EPA officials are working with Navajo environmental experts to mitigate the immediate impacts and provide clean drinking water sources for people, livestock and crops. Despite these efforts, Begaye is concerned about the long-term impacts of the spill on the Navajo people and says he will sue both the Gold King Mine and the EPA.
“Sometimes the federal government will drag its feet and create all kinds of red tape and sometime the only thing that they really understand is a lawsuit. You sue them and you force them to cough up the monies to provide clean water your people,” said Begaye.
As waste water moves from the Animas River into the San Juan River in Utah, state water quality officials are testing water samples along the route. So far they say there is no visible leading edge of contamination and pH values in the river have not changed dramatically.