Published August 22, 2016
SHIPROCK – After what was described as “a year of waiting for assistance that never came,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez said they have no choice but to file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for their part in the Gold King Mine spill and its aftermath.
“Just over a year ago the EPA and others caused the Gold King Mine spill,” said Begaye, “a catastrophe that has devastated the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people.”
Begaye, Nez, Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates, Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch, council delegates Tom Chee (Shiprock) and Amber Crotty (Toadlena/Two Grey Hills/RedValley/Tse’alnaozt’i’i’/Sheepsprings/Beclabito/Gadiiahi/To’Koi) and Shiprock Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie came together near the San Juan River in Shiprock to announce the Navajo Nation’s legal action against the EPA as well as other entities who are said to have a part in the negligence of the mine and ultimate spilling of three million gallons of contaminated water into the Animas and San Juan rivers.
Others listed as defendants are: Environmental Restoration LLC, Harrison Western Corp., Gold King Mines Corp., Sunnyside Gold Corp., Kinross Gold Corp. and Kinross Gold USA Inc.
“As a result of this spill and the significant adverse effects experienced by the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people, we have directed our attorney at Hueston Hennigan LLP to file a lawsuit,” said Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch.
“These defendants ignored warning signs for years, ignored the years-long build up of contaminants and toxins, yet failed to follow reasonable and necessary precautions prior to and during their effort at the Gold King Mine,” she said.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.