By Rachel Smith

(CBS4)– The latest settlement involving the 2015 Gold King Mine spill will provide $90 million for the ongoing clean-up effort in San Juan County. The spill near Silverton turned the Animas river into a toxic orange sludge and sent three million gallons of heavy metal contaminated water through Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah as well as the tribal lands of the Ute and the Navajo Nation.

(credit: CBS)

A crew hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accidentally released the toxic wastewater during excavation aimed at cleaning up the abandoned mine.
Sunnyside Gold Corporation and its Canadian owner, Kinross Gold Corporation agreed to pay $40.9 million to the U.S. government, and another $4 million to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment according to a release from the EPA.

The federal will also contribute $45 million to the ongoing cleanup of the area of the Bonita Peak Mining District, which has been declared a superfund site.

The EPA has already spent more than $75 million on cleanup work at the site so far.

Under the finalized agreement, Sunnyside granted state and federal government workers full access to site, and hands over all of the responsibility for future cleanup operations.

Sunnyside already agreed to a $1.6 million settlement with the state of Colorado in December of 2021. They also agreed to pay $10 million to the Navajo Nation and $11 million State of New Mexico.

Gold King Mine Tour Aug. 18, 2015 (credit: CBS)

With this settlement, the government and the mining companies have agreed to drop any remaining claims against each other.

The EPA continues to monitor the water quality of the Animas River and the impacts of the spill, particularly during spring runoff. The agency still cautions people who live, play or work near the Animas River, as well as Cement Creek and the San Juan River. They say that people should be on the lookout for discolored sediment/soil, and that children under the age of 6 should be monitored closely so they don’t drink water, or ingest sediment from those waterways. If people see unusual discharges from mines in the Bonita Peak Mining District, contact local officials immediately.