(AP) The Republican leader of a congressional panel investigating a 3-million-gallon spill of toxic wastewater from an inactive Colorado gold mine says the mine was purposely breached by a government cleanup team.
Tuesday’s assertion by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop appears to contradict claims by the Obama administration that the cleanup team was doing only preparatory work at the site.
Bishop cited an email in which an Interior Department official said the spill occurred while the cleanup team was removing a “plug” blocking the mine’s entrance and holding back the wastewater.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in response she stands by her earlier statements that the spill was an accident.
The wastewater fouled downstream rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah and forced the shutdown of public water supplies.