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Navajo Nation hosts Erin Brockovich after spill at Gold King Mine

Erin Brockovich tours the Navajo Nation to hear from farmers in the wake of the Gold King Mine spill. Photo from Facebook

The Navajo Nation hosted consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brockovich on Tuesday as the tribe continues to address the fallout from the Gold King Mine spill.

Brockovich made two stops on the reservation and urged youth to stand up to the Environmental Protection Agency. She said the government hasn't told the complete truth about the August 5 incident that caused an estimated 3 million gallons of mine waste to enter the water system.

“You are standing strong for your land, for your people, for your water. You are out there testing and that is something you will have to continue to do,” Brockovich said in Shiprock, New Mexico, one of the communities most affected by the spill. “You cannot rely on the test results the EPA are giving you.”

The EPA has accepted responsibility for the incident and has said conditions along the San Juan River have returned to "pre-incident" levels. But the tribe has refused to lift all restrictions on the use of the water and some communities still don't have access to irrigation canals.

The situation could be changed by the Navajo Nation Council. Legislation No. 0304-15 directs tribal agencies to reopen all of the affected irrigation systems.

“You can’t let only certain chapters open and not others," Delegate Leonard Tsosie said in a press release.

The council's Resources and Development Committee voted 3-1 to approve the bill. The committee serves as the final authority so the bill could be sent to President Russell Begaye, who has only lifted irrigation restrictions in some communities and has kept livestock restrictions in place.

Begaye and Brockovich met with farmers in Shiprock before traveling to Kayenta, Arizona, for a speech to students there. A stop on the Utah portion of the reservation was canceled due to Brockovich's health concerns.

Get the Story:
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich visits Navajo Nation (The Farmington Daily-Times 9/9)
Navajos detail water woes to activist Erin Brockovich (The Arizona Republic 9/9)
Erin Brockovich accuses feds of lying about mine waste spill (AP 9/8)

Committee Notices:
Holding EPA Accountable for Polluting Western Waters (September 9, 2015)
Oversight Hearing on "EPA's Gold King Mine Disaster: Examining the Harmful Impacts to Indian Country" (September 16, 2015)
Oversight of the Cause, Response, and Impacts of EPA’s Gold King Mine Disaster (September 16, 2015)
Joint Oversight Hearing on “EPA’s Animas Spill" (September 17, 2015)

Related Stories:
House committee to hold first hearing into Gold King Mine spill (9/8)
Navajo Nation welcomes Erin Brockovich in aftermath of disaster (9/7)
Navajo Nation hires firm to pursue Gold King Mine spill lawsuit (9/1)
Multiple Capitol Hill hearings set into disaster at Gold King Mine (8/31)
Navajo Nation to reopen irrigation canal after Gold King mine spill (8/28)
EPA releases internal report into Gold King Mine spill disaster (8/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on EPA mine spill (8/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes respond to toxic spill at abandoned mine (8/25)
Navajo Nation remains cautious after spill impacts water system (8/21)
Navajo Nation farmers losing crops amid mine spill concerns (8/18)
Leader of EPA visits Navajo Nation after mine spill in Colorado (8/13)
President of Navajo Nation upset with EPA's response to spill (8/12)
Navajo Leader: 'This is an assault on who we are as Dine people' (8/11)
Navajo Nation to sue EPA over release of mine waste into waters (8/10)

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