DENVER — Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today issued an Executive Order that declares a state of disaster emergency due to the Gold King Mine release and resulting impacts to downstream waters. The order allocates $500,000 from the state’s Disaster Emergency Fund to pay for the response and technical assessments.
On August 5, 2015, workers employed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) triggered a breach at the Gold King Mine outside Silverton in San Juan County. The breach released a plume of more than three million gallons of water containing potentially harmful contaminants into Cement Creek, which flowed into the Animas River and continued downstream.
"Our priority remains to ensure public safety and minimize environmental impacts,” said Hickenlooper. “By declaring a disaster emergency, we are able to better support impacted businesses and communities with state resources. We will work closely with the EPA to continue to measure water quality as it returns to normal, but also to work together to assess other mines throughout the state to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
State agencies continue to provide technical expertise and other resources to assist EPA’s efforts following the release from the Gold King Mine on Wednesday. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will continue to assist in water quality sampling, assessing potential impacts on people and the environment, and advising local health officials as to when the water is safe to use. The Department of Natural Resources is assessing potential impacts on fish and aquatic life, notifying downstream water diverters and users, and providing technical assistance to EPA as they look at a long-term fix for the mine site. Other agencies, including the Department of Local Affairs, and the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) are also engaged and monitoring the situation closely.
The governor has established DHSEM as the lead agency to coordinate state activities and will continue to be briefed as plans for cleanup are implemented. The state is also running concurrent water quality sampling during the EPA mitigation efforts.