Mine spill review team will meet in Farmington

Gov. Martinez established the team to monitor the long-term effects of the Gold King Mine spill

Noel Lyn Smith
An Environmental Restoration LLC crew works on Aug. 10 at a temporary water treatment holding facility at the Gold King Mine north of Silverton, Colo.

FARMINGTON — The long-term impact review team established in the wake of the Gold King Mine spill will host a public meeting in Farmington next week.

The review team is a multi-agency group formed to monitor the effects of the spill, which released more than 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers after the mine was breached on Aug. 5.

In addition, the review team will conduct research, collaborate with communities and share information about the potential impact of the spill.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the formation of the team in August. It includes staff from the New Mexico Environment Department, Office of the State Engineer, Department of Agriculture, Department of Game and Fish, Department of Health and Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The team's Oct. 20 meeting will focus on developing a plan for ongoing monitoring of activities and continuing a dialogue among affected parties.

Environment department spokeswoman Allison Scott Majure said there are five areas for continuing oversight — agriculture, wildlife, health, sediment and water. Majure added that when the spill occurred, the department documented and analyzed the public’s concerns to develop the list.

Charlie Lynch, of Bloomfield, shoots a video on Aug. 7 near the New Mexico-Colorado border as mustard-colored wastewater from the Gold King Mine spill flows in the Animas Rivers.

Next week's meeting will also allow officials to share information about the citizen advisory committee, which will work alongside the review team.

The advisory committee will consist of five to seven members and represent communities affected by the spill, Majure said. The committee is "a key" to addressing concerns raised by the public, she said.

The meeting will also continue a discussion about meaningful environmental oversight, Environment Department Cabinet Secretary Ryan Flynn said in a press release.

"Through working together and sharing ideas and information based on the public’s input and different agencies’ areas of expertise, we’ll be able to better ensure that New Mexicans are protected from any potential long-term effects of this catastrophe," Flynn said in the release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

If you go

What: Long-term impact review team meeting

When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 20

Where: Rooms 9008 and 9010 of the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington