Skip to contents
Environment

Gold King Mine owner sues federal government over 2015 spill

Todd Hennis claims the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has occupied part of his property near the Gold King Mine but hasn't compensated him for doing so

The Animas River after the Gold King Mine spill on Aug. 5, 2015. (Jerry McBride, The Durango Herald)

DURANGO — The owner of an inactive southwestern Colorado mine that was the source of a disastrous 2015 spill that fouled rivers in three Western states has filed a lawsuit seeking nearly $3.8 million in compensation for the federal government’s use of his land in its ongoing cleanup response.

MORE: Many hoped the Gold King Mine spill would bring change. Five years later, they’re still waiting.

Todd Hennis claims the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has occupied part of his property near the Gold King Mine but hasn’t compensated him for doing so since the August 2015 spill, The Durango Herald reports. He also claims the EPA contaminated his land by causing the spill, which fouled rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with a bright-yellow plume of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Hennis is seeking nearly $3.8 million in compensation in the suit filed Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. He contends EPA actions have violated his Fifth Amendment rights to just compensation for public use of private property.

The EPA didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Friday.

An EPA-led contractor crew was doing excavation work at the entrance to the Gold King Mine in August 2015 when it inadvertently breached a debris pile that was holding back wastewater inside the mine.


We believe vital information needs to be seen by the people impacted, whether it’s a public health crisis, investigative reporting or keeping lawmakers accountable. This reporting depends on support from readers like you.