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Utah settles lawsuit over Gold King Mine disaster

Posted at 9:30 AM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 16:18:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah has settled a lawsuit with the federal government over the Gold King Mine disaster.

FOX 13 reported on the settlement on Wednesday morning. The Utah Attorney General's Office announced details later in the afternoon.

The state sued the Environmental Protection Agency over the 2015 disaster which polluted the San Juan River. A contractor accidentally released millions of gallons of toxic materials into Colorado's Animas River, which spread into Utah's San Juan River and into Lake Powell.

Altogether, Utah will get more than $360 million in environmental cleanup efforts that focus on other mining areas in the state. More than $3 million has been allocated for water quality grants from the federal government to Utah, which could be used by Utah's Department of Environmental Quality for harmful algal bloom monitoring, drinking water protection and pollution reduction in agriculture. In exchange, the state will drop its lawsuit against the EPA. It can, however, re-file if it is proven that there is evidence of ongoing harm from the Gold King Mine disaster.

"The State is getting a unique mix of assets: significant remediation commitments for very real threats, cash for Utah water quality projects, environmental monitoring and testing paid for by the EPA, assurances that Utah has a seat at the table for important decisions about mitigation in areas even outside our state borders and the safety net of being able to re-open the case should evidence of harm begin to arise," Spencer Austin, the chief deputy of the criminal division for Utah's attorney general, said in a statement.