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Navajo Council Criticizes Animas Disaster Response

Rita Daniels / KUNM
The Animas River near Farmington, N.M., still showed some discoloration on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015.

The Navajo Nation Council met on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about impacts from the more than 3-million-gallon toxic spill into the Animas River. "This is an assault on our way of life," said Delegate Amber Crotty. "This is an assault on core of who we are as Diné people."

One by one, delegates stood up to question the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to the Animas River spill. The EPA was expected to Skype into the meeting but had technical troubles.  

Crotty said there’s been a breach of trust. "We need to demand as a Navajo Nation that the U.S. EPA Region 9 establish a direct line of communication," she said. "I’m very upset on how the nation was notified."

Council members also said they want an independent analytical team set up to test the water because the agency has a conflict of interest.

The EPA’s Jared Blumenfeld said the agency is briefing tribal officials and trying to establish communication with residents. "In terms of drinking water, we are establishing a 1-800 number that will be able to work with Navajo private well owners and others to be able to have their water quality tested."

Blumenfeld added that the EPA has 12 representatives working in Window Rock, Shiprock and Farmington.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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