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H.R. 3602 (114th): Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act of 2015

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Sep 24, 2015.

Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act of 2015

This bill entitles persons to compensation for allowable damages (i.e., property, business, or financial losses) under the Federal Tort Claims Act if they were injured by the spill into Cement Creek from the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. The spill occurred on August 5, 2015.

The bill establishes an Office of Gold King Mine Spill Claims within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to process and pay compensation claims.

The EPA must work with affected states and Indian tribes to develop, fund, and implement a long-term monitoring program for water quality of the Animas and San Juan Rivers in response to the spill.

The bill amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 by requiring certain agencies to work with affected states as well as research universities to: (1) identify the most dangerous abandoned and inactive mines, (2) establish a priority plan for cleaning up those mines, (3) update the plan as new information becomes available, and (4) develop a long-term research initiative. That initiative must evaluate the physical, chemical, and geological attributes of closed, abandoned, and inactive mines and pursue technological developments to aid in the cleanup of those mines.

Prior to carrying out mine remediation activities, agencies must: (1) provide affected tribal, state, and local governments notice of such activities; and (2) develop a spill prevention, control, and countermeasures plan for avoiding and mitigating the impacts of a spill.