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Navajos renew call for reimbursement from EPA mine spill

By: Associated Press
August 13, 2016 Updated: August 13, 2016 at 1:20 pm
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SHIPROCK, NM - AUGUST 15: Roy Etcitty looks out over the San Juan River while reflecting on what the river means to him August 15, 2015. Etcitty, who grew up on the San Juan River, is one of the many farmers that has been affected by the contamination of the San Juan River, causing the water to the Navajo Nation to shut off to farmers and residents who depend on that as their main water source. Close to 20 charters of the Navajo Nation rely on the San Juan River for their farming and raising of livestock needs as well as many relying on the river for drinking water. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

FARMINGTON, N.M. — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye is renewing the tribe's call for the federal government to reimburse farmers for damaged caused by a massive mine waste spill in southwestern Colorado.

Begaye was among the tribal, state and local officials who participated earlier this week in a discussion marking the one-year anniversary of the blowout at the Gold King Mine.

An EPA-led crew triggered the spill during preliminary cleanup work on Aug. 5, 2015. Three million gallons of wastewater carrying arsenic, lead and other heavy metals tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Begaye says the spill was devastating for Navajo farmers and the $445,000 the EPA recently awarded for response costs is only a quarter of what the spill has cost the tribe so far.

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