Some senators called Wednesday for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to quickly fire or otherwise punish the employees responsible for last month’s mine waste spill in Colorado.

The lawmakers were shocked that more than a month after the disaster at the Gold King Mine that spilled 3 million gallons of sludge with heavy metals into a nearby river, no one had been punished and no heads had rolled.

{mosads}At a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked EPA head Gina McCarthy if anyone has been fired for the spill, the response to it or the slow notifications of downstream communities and tribes. McCarthy said no one had been fired.

“Someone is responsible for disrupting and harming the lives and welfare, and someone should be held responsible because it happened,” McCain said. “So far, no one has been held responsible, except ‘the agency.’ ”

McCain showed deep frustration that, although McCarthy took responsibility for the spill on behalf of the EPA, she refused to hold any individual employees accountable.

“Accidents, by their nature, may not have been caused by any negligence whatsoever on the part of anybody,” McCarthy said.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) was also looking for McCarthy to name names.

“Can you tell us at this point who is responsible for the spill at the agency?” he asked.

“The Environmental Protection Agency is what I know,” McCarthy responded.

McCarthy added that she’s waiting for the Department of the Interior’s external review of the incident before passing judgment on what individual people did or did not do. Interior, whose Bureau of Reclamation is conducting the probe, plans to complete it next month.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said she looks forward to hearing who is responsible and who can be fired.

“We can talk about firing people, and hopefully as you go through the process, you’re going to find people who will be culpable,” she said.

The hearing was the second of the day for McCarthy on the Gold King Mine spill after the Environment and Public Works Committee grilled her on it.

On Thursday, she’ll speak at a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Natural Resources committees on the spill.

Tags Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy Heidi Heitkamp John Hoeven John McCain

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video