New Mexico declares state of emergency after spill

Animas River now looks like orange sludge from a mine spill upstream.
Animas River now looks like orange sludge from a mine spill upstream.

DENVER (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency that frees up state funds to address a massive spill of waste-water from a Colorado mine into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Federal officials say more than three million gallons of water tainted with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals contaminated the rivers following last week’s spill.

Martinez on Monday said she was heartbroken and called it an environmental catastrophe.

She joined other officials in criticizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its lack of communication and transparency after a cleanup crew supervised by the EPA accidentally breached a debris dam at the old mine in southwest Colorado on Wednesday.

Under the governor’s order, $750,000 in state funds will be available for well testing, long-term studies and other efforts.

The amount is in addition to $500,000 in emergency funds the New Mexico Environment Department requested and received Friday.

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