Hick­en­looper, Gard­ner, Ben­net to hold town hall

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jesse Paul

U.S. Sens. Cory Gard­ner and Michael Ben­net, along with Gov. John Hick­en­looper and U.S. Rep. Scott Tip­ton, will hold a town hall in Du­rango on Fri­day af­ter­noon af­ter their trip to the Gold King Mine with EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

The event will be from 2:15 to 3 p.m. at the La Plata County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing.

“They, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the EPA, will pro­vide an up­date of their (Gold King) meet­ing and take ques­tions from at­ten­dees,” the group said in a news re­lease. Pruitt is not slated to join the town hall.

The bi­par­ti­san group of Colorado politi­cians is sched­uled to tour the Gold King — just out­side of Sil­ver­ton — on Fri­day with Pruitt amid the two-year an­niver­sary of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s 3 mil­lion-gal­lon waste­water spill there.

The Aug. 5, 2015, re­lease turned the An­i­mas River a mus­tard-yel­low color as sludge moved down the wa­ter­way — through Colorado, New Mex­ico, Utah and Amer­i­can In­dian land.

The an­niver­sary of the dis­as­ter is Satur­day. The EPA has de­clined to ac­knowl­edge Pruitt’s visit to the mine or pro­vide de­tails on his trip.

Gard­ner in­vited Pruitt to tour the Gold King in March, weeks af­ter his nom­i­na­tion to lead the EPA was con­firmed.

Gard­ner has not held an in-per­son town hall meet­ing with con­stituents since March 2016, although he has hosted sev­eral tele­phone town halls (in­clud­ing one Wed­nes­day night) and met with Coloradans in smaller set­tings.

This week, the state of Utah sued mine own­ers and con­trac­tors for the EPA over the spill.

Utah wants cleanup com­pen­sa­tion and un­spec­i­fied dam­ages, state at­tor­ney gen­eral spokesman Dan Bur­ton said Tues­day.

Utah hasn’t named a dam­ages amount be­cause it’s still in­ves­ti­gat­ing how much it will cost to clean up its por­tion of spill. Me­tals have set­tled into riverbeds, where they can get stirred up any rain­storm or heavy snowmelt, state of­fi­cials have said.

To­tal dam­ages from farm­ers, busi­ness own­ers and res­i­dents along the spill’s path have been es­ti­mated at $420 mil­lion.

Con­tam­i­nants have been trans­ported through the San Juan River to the vast reser­voir of Lake Pow­ell, the law­suit states.

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