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Utah’s suit over mine spill transferred to New Mexico court

(Jerry McBride | The Durango Herald | The Associated Press) 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 released of an estimated 3 million gallons of waste from the Gold King Mine by a crew led by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA says it has almost finished reviewing hundreds of damage claims from the spill, but the agency has still not released a clear accounting of the claims made for economic losses and personal injuries.

Albuquerque, N.M. • A panel of federal judges says Utah’s lawsuit over a mine waste spill will be transferred from a Salt Lake City court to one in New Mexico, where three similar suits were filed.

The ruling Wednesday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation means the suits filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others will be heard in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M.

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages from the EPA, government contractors and a mining company over a 2015 spill at the Gold King Mine in Colorado. An EPA-supervised contractor crew inadvertently triggered the spill, which polluted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The other lawsuits were filed by the state of New Mexico, the Navajo Nation and seven residents of Aztec, N.M.

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