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Gold King Contractor to Face Navajo Nation Claims

Navajo Nation - wavy colorful rock in Southwest

A New Mexico federal judge on Monday largely left intact the state and Navajo Nation’s consolidated lawsuits seeking damages from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contractor involved in the 2015 Gold King Mine spill. 

Environmental Restoration LLC, which contracted with the EPA to work at the Colorado mine and is allegedly partly responsible for the disaster that polluted two rivers that flowed into the Navajo Nation and New Mexico, had asked U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo to toss the lawsuits, but the judge found there was enough evidence to proceed with most of the plaintiffs’ claims.

The judge first declined to toss the state and Navajo Nation’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act claims for cost recovery and injunctive relief. In particular, she rejected Environmental Restoration’s assertion that is was not a facility “operator” as defined by CERCLA.

She noted that the company was one of the parties present and working at the site on Aug. 4 and Aug. 5, 2015.

Read more in Law360  By Juan Carlos Rodriguez

The Navajo Nation is represented by John Hueston, Moez Kaba, Andrew Walsh, and Kasey Mitchell.