U.S. John McCain (R-AZ) is calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch a criminal investigation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in relation to its handling of a massive wastewater spill at a former mine in Colorado in August.
The blowout occurred when EPA workers excavating one section of the old mine to install a drainage tap broke a plug restraining the contaminated water. The accident released approximately 3 million gallons of wastewater containing heavy metals and other contaminants into local rivers, creeks, and streams, but residents were not notified about the spill until the day after it had occurred.
McCain, who serves on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued
his call for an investigation during a field response hearing in Phoenix April 22 focused on obtaining feedback on the EPA's response to local tribes. The senator challenged the EPA's role in the disaster, as well as their response.
Local tribal leaders, academics, and government officials all gave testimony about the impact of the spill and the agency's response.