US Senator calls for criminal probe into mine spill

Mine Waste Leak
FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2015 file photo, water flows through a series of sediment retention ponds built to reduce heavy metal and chemical contaminants from the Gold King Mine wastewater accident, in the spillway about 1/4 mile downstream from the mine, outside Silverton, Colo. State and tribal officials remain concerned over river bottoms contaminated by a toxic mine spill that fouled waterways in three Western states, even as the federal agency that triggered the accident has sought to downplay the danger. Federal contractors released more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water Aug. 5 while working at an inactive mine site near Silverton. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

PHOENIX (AP) – U.S. Sen. John McCain has called for a criminal investigation into what led to a massive spill of mine waste that polluted rivers in three Western states last summer.

McCain and the head of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs met with Navajo and Hopi tribal leaders and the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to discuss the impact and aftermath of the 3 million gallon spill at Colorado’s abandoned Gold King Mine.

The EPA inadvertently triggered the spill while performing preliminary cleanup work.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said Friday during a Congressional hearing in Phoenix that the EPA has not done enough to compensate farmers who lost crops and livestock because of the spill and could face pollution problems for decades.

EPA officials admitted more could have been done to notify the Navajo Nation.

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