The Associated Press – DENVER — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fired back Thursday after a mining company accused the agency of failing to run a southwestern Colorado treatment plant at full capacity, letting untreated mine wastewater get into the Animas River.
EPA officials said the plant is running the way it was designed to, treating wastewater pouring from the inactive Gold King Mine. Scrubbing wastewater from additional sites would require expanding the plant, they said.
The exchange was the latest in a dispute between the agency and Sunnyside Gold Corp. over who should pay for a water study to help devise a cleanup plan for the area.
Doug Benevento, the EPA’s Denver-based regional director, said Sunnyside’s criticism of the treatment plant is designed to distract attention from the company’s responsibility to help with the cleanup.
“It’s unfortunate that instead of cooperating … they distract and try to point fingers back at us,” Benevento said, who was appointed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Sunnyside said it isn’t responsible for the ongoing pollution problems.