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Gold King Mine spill suit against EPA contractors to move forward

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2015 file photo, Dan Bender of the La Plata County Sheriff's Office takes a water sample from the Animas River near Durango, Colo., after the accidental release of an estimated 3 million gallons of waste from the Gold King Mine. The EPA said Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 that fish and other aquatic life didn't suffer severe or long-lasting damage from the spill. (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — A lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency and two of its contractors over a toxic mishap at a Colorado gold and silver mine is moving forward.

A federal judge rejected efforts by EPA contractors to dismiss the suit brought against them by states and private parties. The suit alleges the agency and its contractors caused the 2015 blowout at Gold King Mine in Silverton, CO. The blowout dumped hazardous waste into the Animas and San Juan rivers, and Lake Powell. The spill ultimately contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and the Navajo Nation.

Gov. Gary Herbert says it’s time the EPA does what is right.

“The Court’s decision is an important step towards restoring our environment and protecting the communities impacted by the Gold King Mine disaster,” says Herbert. “Instead of wasting time and money on litigation, let’s turn attention and resources to cleaning up the contamination from the blowout.”

The EPA has taken responsibility for the disaster, but has refused to pay for any damages claims filed.

The State of Utah is seeking approximately $2-billion dollars in the suit.