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‘We feel disrespected’: Navajo farmers wait for justice years after EPA disaster []


By Michael Benanav, Photo: Michael Benananv/Searchlight New Mexico, The Guardian, August 4, 2022

On 7 August 2015, crews from the Navajo Nation irrigation office in Shiprock rushed to close the main gates of two irrigation canals that carry water from the San Juan River toward the fields of hundreds of Navajo farmers.

It was peak growing season in the arid north-western corner of New Mexico. About 12,000 acres of crops had been planted. And a disaster was threatening all of them.

Two days earlier, 115 miles upstream in Colorado, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally released about 3m gallons of acid mine water from the Gold King mine, during the initial stages of a cleanup operation. Spilling from Cement Creek into the Animas River and then the San Juan, the waterways – poisoned with nearly 540 tons of arsenic, lead, cadmium and other toxic metals – turned a sickly yellow.

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