Navajo accuse EPA of providing tainted water

August 31, 2015

One of the groups most heavily affected by the Gold King Mine incident that spilled over 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas river is the Navajo Nation. The Navajo have been dependent on the water source for quite some time to raise their crops and livestock, and have been unable to access the source for fear of pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in and started supplying the tribesmen with water to prevent their crops from failing and their livestock from dying of dehydration.

The water sent by the EPA was apparently tainted, or so says Joe Ben Junior, a representative of Shiprock, New Mexico's farm board. The EPA assured Russell Begaye, the president of the Navajo Nation, that this wasn't the case, and that it believed Ben to be manipulating pre-existing tensions between the EPA and the tribes for his own political ends. 

Begaye says that at first, he took the EPA's assurances at face value, but when he inspected the water for himself, he saw several black objects floating in its tanks. When he took them out and squeezed the objects in his hand, they turned into a greasy streak. 

"I was astounded," Begaye told the Guardian. "I couldn't believe there were black oily streaks in the water."

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing," he added. "I couldn't believe the EPA's higher-ups basically told me a lie."

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