WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Navajo Native American leaders have accused the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of trying to cheat them out of future compensation in an acrimonious row over damages due to them over a polluted water spill from the Gold King Mine.
EPA officials went door to door on a Navajo reservation asking members of the tribe, some of whom only speak English as a second language, to sign a form offering to pay damages from the spill, the conservative Washington Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Tribal leader Russell Begaye told the newspaper he was seeking to launch a lawsuit against the EPA and the agency was trying to buy off as many tribal members as possible to avoid having to pay a much larger settlement later to them.
The spill dumped millions of gallons of polluted wastewater into the Animas River, which flows into the San Juan and Colorado Rivers, major water sources for agriculture in the Four Corners region where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet.
The Washington Times noted that the EPA had no immediate response to Begaye’s allegations.