The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is dismissing complaints by Republican lawmakers that her agency downplayed the seriousness of a toxic mine spill that fouled rivers in three Western states.
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EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy called the spill caused by her agency "tragic and unfortunate." She said the EPA has taken responsibility to ensure that 3 million gallons of rust-colored sludge released into Colorado's Animas River is cleaned up. The Aug. 5 spill occurred during excavation work at an inactive gold mine near Silverton, Colorado.
Republicans charge that EPA is treating itself more gingerly than if a private company were responsible for the spill, which sent lead and other heavy metals rushing toward communities downstream.
McCarthy said Wednesday "there's no way EPA should have downplayed this. I certainly did not."