In a report released Monday, government investigators say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had no rules for working around old mines when the agency inadvertently triggered a massive spill from a Colorado mine that polluted rivers in three states, including Utah.
In August 2015, an EPA-led crew was excavating at the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of wastewater tainted with heavy metals into rivers, in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
“There are a lot of abandoned mines out there. This is something we hope doesn’t become a common practice, of course. We want to be very protective of our waters,” said Donna Spanglers with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
The EPA’s Office of Inspector General said Monday the agency started work on safety standards after the spill and expected to release them this week.