'I had the chance to see the spill with my own eyes. It is absolutely devastating, and I am heartbroken by this environmental catastrophe' -- Gov. Martinez
Gov.Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency in response to the three-million gallon waste spill in the Animas River in Colorado that EPA officials have admitted to causing.
The estimate of the amount of contaminated water was raised from one-million gallons to three-million.
The governor toured the spill by helicopter and met with local officials in San Juan County on Saturday. The day before, Martinez established a multi-agency response team that has been assisting affected communities, and New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn issued emergency orders allowing for hazardous waste funding to be made available to assist with response efforts.
The governor’s office said she was directing the multi-agency team to remain in Northwest New Mexico for an indefinite period of time to provide on-the-ground support as residents and community leaders respond to the spill.
“I had the chance to see the spill with my own eyes. It is absolutely devastating, and I am heartbroken by this environmental catastrophe,” Martinez said.
EPA officials participated in a town-hall meeting with Navajo Nation leaders on Monday where people expressed their distrust of the agency for a perceived lack of transparency.
Officials said that as the contaminated water works its way to the Colorado River via the San Juan River, heavy-metal contaminants will settle to the bottom of the riverbed, which raises long-term contamination concerns.
— ABQ Free Press staff report