By Rick Sallinger

DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4)– The head of the EPA toured the Gold King Mine on Friday. Two years ago, that same mine burst with toxic materials.

The head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, visited the site with Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Mike Bennet and Congressman Scott Tipton.

Gov. John Hickenlooper joined Colorado’s senators and representatives along with EPA’s Scott Pruitt on a tour of the Gold King Mine (credit: CBS)

Pruitt blamed the EPA under president Obama for failure to handle the situation properly.

CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger watched video of the early minutes of the breach by the EPA with the owner of the Gold King Mine, Todd Hennis.

Gold King Mine owner Todd Hennis (credit: CBS)

On the video, plenty of equipment can be seen. The man taking this video asked a key question.

“Is he going to close it up?”

Gold King Mine (credit: CBS)

No action appeared to be taken to attempt to close the gaping entrance to the mine that had been sealed up.

While viewing the video Hennis told CBS4, “Plenty of material they could shove into the hole and stop it at this point.”

Gold King Mine owner Todd Hennis (credit: CBS)

Instead, millions of gallons of liquid poured out into Cement Creek and the Animas River. It was called an environmental disaster.

Pruitt said the EPA walked away from the Gold King Mine after causing the mess and will now re-evaluate damage claims.

(credit: CBS)

Sen. Bennet noted here’s a lot to be done.

In an interview with CBS4’s Matt Kroeshel, Bennet said, “Having designation as Superfund site is only one step in the process. We need to make sure the resources are put into there to do the remediation that’s required at the site.”

CBS4’s Matt Kroschel interviews Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

The environmental mess that flowed from the Gold King Mine could happen again. Its owner Hennis says an adjacent mine is filled with even more toxic liquids.

When asked, “Could we have another disaster?” Hennis replied, “Absolutely and it would be a thousand times worse than Gold King.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R) Colorado (credit: CBS)

These are not hollow words.

Sen. Gardner echoed that this is not a one time only problem, “Not just Gold King, we are talking about a handful of mines around the West that pose a threat to our environment and our community.”

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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