National / Politics / U.S. News

New Mexico official: EPA kept water data secret after spill

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, talks with the committee's ranking member Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, before the start of the committee's hearing with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy on the Gold King Mine wastewater spill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, talks with the committee’s ranking member Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, before the start of the committee’s hearing with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy on the Gold King Mine wastewater spill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A New Mexico official says federal regulators refused to share water quality data for weeks following a blowout of toxic wastewater from a Colorado mine that fouled rivers across the Southwest.

Ryan Flynn, New Mexico Environment and Natural Resources secretary, said the move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aimed to downplay the severity of the spill, hobbling the state’s response.

Flynn’s comments came in statements prepared for delivery Thursday September 17, before a U.S. House committee investigating the Aug. 5 accident.

The spill was triggered by an EPA cleanup team as it was doing excavation work on an inactive mine near Silverton, Colorado. The pollution tainted with heavy metals flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah.

EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen says water-quality test results were made public as soon as they were validated.

 

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