Utah seeking $1.9 billion from EPA over mine-waste spill

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2015 file photo, Dan Bender, with 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 by a crew led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA said Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 that it won’t pay claims totaling more than $1.2 billion for economic damages from the spill, saying the law prohibits it. (Jerry McBride /The Durango Herald via AP, File)

Utah officials have confirmed the state is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $1.9 billion in damages after the EPA inadvertently triggered a multistate spill from an old gold mine in Colorado.

Dan Burton, a spokesman for the Utah attorney general’s office, said Tuesday the state filed the claim in February but never publicly announced it. Word of the claim first surfaced Friday when the EPA made a passing reference to it in a news release.

Utah’s claim is by far the largest stemming from the August 2015 spill from the Gold King Mine. Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were polluted with heavy metals, and Indian lands were also affected.

The Navajo Nation filed a claim for $162 million, and the state of New Mexico sought $130 million.