tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 11, 2015 4:00am-6:01am EDT
industry, get refreshed technologically and then come back to the community. we need to figure out a way to facilitate that. so i think what i mind, what they're interested in, what's the technological challenge, where can i go to broaden my professional horizons? and they're not too concerned with sticking with one institution for a 30-year, lifetime career. that's a big difference from my day when i first got into this business. >> thank you for that. >> a somewhat related question. many have suggested that the intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act, and the odni are like goldwater nichols was for the dod. so how do you think the ic's
journey is going ten years into this reform? >> well, i think -- again, we operate better as an enterprise, as a community, than we did ten years ago. literally had 9/11, so let's re-organize. and we can argue until the cows come home if that was necessary or needed, but it doesn't matter. it's the law. it's what the 9/11 commission decided was needed and that found its way into the intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act. we have a unique arrangement in this country for an intelligence community. it's really not -- although many countries, i find now, are trying to emulate it, it's not quite like ours. it's not like goldwater nichols, because that applied to one cabinet department. and the ic is an amalgam of 17
organizations that cut across six cabinet departments and two independent agencies. perhaps the spirit of goldwater nichols applies and we've tried to do that particularly with joint duty. and we're approaching somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 employees that have qualified for joint duty. many of them in deployed status. so i think we've made progress. we operate better as an enterprise, as a community. that's not to say there aren't issues and problems that we still wrestle with, and we'll continue to do that. and i suspect my successor will continue to promote integration. certainly in the spirit of goldwater nichols, if not the exact letter of it. >> if i could just add a comment of my own on that. i was not involved in the reform
process. i was serving as ambassador to iraq at the time, and actually the first time i read the legislation was when the president asked me to be the first director. it seems to me, whatever the merits or demerits, one has to accept things as they are. that legislation was passed, and i think the idea of trying to reform the intelligence community again, at least in any significant way, would be opening up a can of worms. i think that the best thing is to try to make what we've got work. vice president cheney used to talk to me about maybe at some point you might have some perfecting amendments to suggest. but i'm not even sure that we want to do that. perhaps what we want to do is make sure we make the improvements we can within existing legal authorities.
here's a question about the snowden affair. can you give a capsule summary of how the snowden issue has affected our ic operations, i guess not to mention our diplomacy. >> well, on the one hand it obviously forced some needed transparency, particularly on those programs that affected the privacy in this country. had that been all he had done i probably could have understood it better or maybe even tolerated it. but he exposed so many other things that had nothing to do with so-call domestic surveillance or privacy in this country.
he's done untold damage to our foreign collection and analysis capabilities. terrorists, particular lea, -- particularly, have gone to school on the revelations caused by snowden. particular program in afghanistan that he exposed, that greenwald wrote about, and the day after he wrote about it, the government was shut down by the government of afghanistan, which was the single most important source of first protection warning for our people in afghanistan. so he's done huge damage to our collection capabilities, make no mistake about it. >> that's very, very interesting. and troubling, of course. here's a question i had wanted to ask you. as a leader who has uniquely observed major world events and the effects of the world events
over the past years, what are your concerns with the mass syrian refugee situation on the different countries throughout europe, economically, national security wise, cultu culturally, et cetera. i guess to add something to that would be, how do we know what kind of people are going to europe in this refugee flow? >> well, it is, you know, getting to be -- in its totality, a disaster of biblical proportions. just look at syria alone where there are in excess of 4 million people that have left syria and another 11 million that have been internally displaced. of course a humanitarian situation internal to syria is a disaster.
and so what this has caused, obviously, is this urge to go somewhere, anywhere, where there's some hope of their life improving. and of course as they descend on europe, one of the obvious issues that we worry about in turn, as we bring refugees to this country is exactly what their background. i don't obviously put it past the likes of isil to infiltrate operatives among these refugees. so that is a huge concern of ours. we do have a pretty aggressive program for those coming to this country for screening their background. i'm not as uniformly confident
about each european country that is going to be faced with welcoming or allowing refugees into their country. this is a huge, a huge issue for all kinds of reasons. you know, the security implications are just one small part of it. but, you know, the economic, the social impacts are huge. >> and it's really captured global attention. it's on the front page every single day and i suspect it will be for quite a while to come. here's a question about russia. the resurgence of russian military power is not just playing out in eastern europe but also in places such as the arctic with one quarter of the world's oil reserves, future transpolar shipping and concern on climate change, do we have a greater need to balance our national interests above the
arctic circle? >> well, first point i think is just, you know, a general statement about russia. and its very aggressive and for me concerning military modernizations, is of great concern. in some ways it's almost a throwback to the era of the cold war. and a challenge we have in intelligence is, we do not have nearly the resources that we did in the heyday of the cold war to allocate against watching what is becoming a very formidable adversary. manifestation of that is their aggressiveness in the arctic. of course underlying that are
their own concerns and interests and claims for oil resources in the arctic shelf. and so they have set about a very aggressive campaign to either reactivate and refurnish -- refurbish bases in the arctic region, or build new ones. and it's very clear they are quite serious about a stake in the arctic. and i think, you know, the president's visit to alaska was intended to, i think, attract attention to this, why the arctic is important to the united states. and speaking of climate change, as controversial as that is with some people, the impacts of climate change are having and will continue to have huge national security implications around the world.
it already is. the changes in climate and changes of weather and how that affects crops and the availability of water, which is getting to be, in many cases, a great point of friction between and among certain countries. >> here's a perennial. the background investigation and security clearance process and system -- these are pretty strong words coming here -- inefficient, wasteful and obsolete with the revelations about the opm data breach we now know that the system is corrupt, therefore untrustworthy. what are you doing to reform and reshape the background investigation and clearance process to bring it into the
21st century? >> well, what we're attempting to do -- of course, now because of all of the challenges with opm before the breach. but what we're trying to do is go to a system of continuous evaluation, which would mean monitoring, at least on a mental basis, employees who have -- once they're granted a clearance, to detect anomalous behavior, either in the workplace, or outside the workplace, that could then prompt or stimulate a deeper investigation, as opposed to the system we've had which goes back, you know, to the cold war era, of initial clearance and then allegedly every five years, you get a periodic reinvestigation. a system which is broken. and made all the more so by the
challenges that opm had with its contractor before the revelation of the breaches. so the combination of what we're doing, what we've been told to do, mandated to do, both by the hill and the white house to enhance insider threat detection, and as we morph to a system of continuous evaluation, i think that will change the system. what that hopefully will do is allow more mobility between ic components and contractors. that has been the case in the past. the other thing that i've been kind of on the war path about is just reducing the number of clearances that are granted. because if you have a clearance and no one has -- there's hundreds of thousands of cases of this where people have
clearances but don't need or have the access. that imposes a huge burden on the investigatory system. one way we help ourselves, and this is primarily through the efforts of dod, just to reduce the need for clearances. we've reduced somewhere in the neighborhood of 6- or 700,000 clearance requirements. which, in turn, of course, lightens the load somewhat on the whole system. but you're right, the system we have now doesn't work. and i think the only hope here, which is where we're going, a system of continuous evaluation which depend heavily on automation, particularly at the secret level, we're going to do all of that on an automated basis unless something kicks up that cues us that we need to look at this person in a little more depth.
>> interesting. trusted traveller sort of approach to things. what is your advice to recent graduates, ex-military, students and young professionals seeking to enter the field of intelligence with cutbacks in government and the prerequisite of active security clearances -- here we are again -- in the privacy sector? >> now that i've, in any geezer era, i've spent time engaging individually with young people, you know, in college, and coming out of college. a couple of things i tell them is -- many of them will set their goal or their target on i want to go to work for agency x. and my advice to them is apply to all of them. there's interesting challenging work in any one of the
intelligence components. if you get on one one of them, worry about where you want to end up later. you may find your second choice is not bad. and if you cannot get on with the government, then seek employment with the contractors who work for the intelligence community. there are many avenues. at the same time, as i indicated earlier, our attrition rate is not all that high and, you know, people do stay. and the prospects frankly, given our budget situation and the life of the budget control act through 2021, there aren't going to be a whole lot of openings. that's not to say there won't be some. there are. but -- so the one thing i try to impart to people, young people -- many of them are, they're not good at that, is patience. you know, to be patient and
persevering. here comes the ringer. >> okay. here it is. the audience in front of you today is about 75% private sector. and the private sector builds the capabilities for the ic, it provides critical services and is the source of critical innovation. how would you assess the state of the ic's public/private partnership and how could it be improved? >> well, i think it's, you know, it's pretty good. certainly could always be better. i think one of the challenges is something i've really tried to work when i was nga director after i spent six years in industry was to come up with a mechanism or mechanisms whereby
we -- i'm speaking "we" as nga, would be more open to contractors, particularly those who, you know, didn't have sci facilities or clearances just for the sake of getting their technology. one of the things i pushed at odni is to try to lay out a technology road map, what are the needs and requirements of the intelligence community, and, you know, present that as best we can to industry, to engage industry and, you know, into helping us. industry is absolutely crucial to the continued viability and success of the intelligence community. we have to have what you make, what you -- the tools that you give us, and the technology.
and so it's never nirvana. it's not what everyone would like just because of the certain extent, you know, the nature of our business. it's classified, secret and all of that. and the nature of the rules that we have to, we have to live with. but within that my, at least philosophically -- philosophical bent is to try to open up the lines of communication and be as open with industry as we can be. >> so perhaps two more questions, if that's okay with you. the first would be, how can we actively encourage innovation horizontally across the ic without using infrastructure or organizational reshuffle as a placebo for change?
>> well, one way -- i guess there are many, but i'll just in the interest of brevity, i'll say, one thing that helps that is facilitating moving people around within the ic. i think that -- where you bring the ideas of your home organization to another organization. and i have found just in my own experience, just at odni where 40% of our workforce are detailees from the rest of the community, that that constant infusion of new ideas, from other places, is helpful. i also think that -- and this of course applies to parts of the ic with heavy military populations, like dia and nsa,
for example, that the infusion of military people who are transient by definition, who served other places, particularly in the war zone, and they come to the agencies, and i find that the young soldiers, sailors and marines are huge drivers for change and innovation, particularly if they've served in the war zones. with due respect, there's still a number of questions here that i have, and i'm sorry that we're not able to get to all of them. maybe one final question, jim. we face a plethora of threats most of us never imagined, an evolving ambitious china. resurgent russia. daily cyber catastrophes. and some of them do seem like
catastrophes to me -- and a disintegrating middle east to name a few. how prepared are we to understand these threats and what initiatives or innovations do we need to undertake to be better prepared? >> well, i think the line i've used in testimony on the hill every year that i've been on this job, and i just repeat it and add a year, is to say that, in my x number of years, i don't recall a time where we've been beset by more challenges and crises and a greater diversity of them than we do today. and so what i've tried to protect in terms of our capability is global coverage, which means a couple of things, at least to me. one is sustaining our bases and
stations around the world that the cia is host for what are increasingly becoming ic cells. and by the way, we here in the beltway like to agonize over whether we're integrators or not. when we go into the field -- i just had a reminder of this in my last trip. there's no with question about integration and operating as a team because it's just good business. when i first started travel in this job, when i had ic town halls at embassies around the world, i needed to, you know, roll out my sermon about integration. i stopped doing that because it's just not necessary anymore. in fact, i would submit parenthetically that what the cia is doing in its
reorganization is saluting what already goes on in the field, internally, as they are integrating into a series of mission centers. so i think that global coverage around the world is one very important to mention, so that we cannot possibly predict every sinl -- single crisis and challenge we're going to have. so we have to be positioned where we can observe, collect, and understand what's going on. the other piece of global coverage, in my mind, is to sustain a robust overhead collection architecture. particularly for access to denied areas. so those two capabilities and, of course, particularly in the latter case, trying to push innovation and stretching the technological envelope if you
will, are the areas that i've put a lot of emphasis. >> thank you very much for this wide-ranging discussion which resulted from these questions. i understand, director clapper, that before we conclude this session that you have an announcement for -- >> well, thanks, john. it's more in the nature of a commercial. first, thanks for having me to kick this off. i wanted to announce at 9:45 that the national counter intelligence executive and also the now director of the national intelligence security center, will be here to roll out a counterintelligence seminar, awareness seminar, prompted at least in part by opm breaches.
so 9:45 for bill. thanks for that. >> let's give director clapper -- let's express our appreciation to him for -- [ applause ] that concludes the first session of our summit. we'll now have a coffee break in the exit hall. -- in the exhibit hall and please enjoy the refreshments. the breakout sessions will start at 10:15 a.m., 10:15 on the lower level where you all came in, and then remember, director clapper just mentioned the 9:45 event. thank you. >> all persons having business before the honorable supreme court of the united states are admonished to draw near and give their attention.
>> number 759, 759. ernest miranda, petitioner versus arizona. >> arguments number 19, rowe against wade. >> marl bury and madison the most most popular case. >> putting the decision into effect would take presidential records and the presence of federal troupes and marshalls and the courage of children. >> we wanted to pick cases that changed the direction and import of the court in society and that also changed society. >> so she told them that they'd have to have a search warrant,
and mrs. mapp demanded to see the paper and to read what it was. which they refused to do, so she grabbed it out of his hands to look at it, and thereafter, the police officer handcuffed her. >> i can't imagine a better way to bring the constitution to life than by telling the human stories behind great supreme court cases. >> fred formatsu boldly rejected the force interment of japanese americans. after being convicted of failing to report, he took his case all the way to the supreme court. >> quite often in many of our most famous decisions are ones that the court took that were quite unpopular. >> if you had to pick one freedom that was the most essential to the functioning of a democracy, it has to be freedom of speech. >> let's go to a few cases that illustrate very dramatically and
visually what it means to live in a society of 310 million different people, who have helped stick together because they believe in a rule of law. >> landmark cases, an exploration of 12 historic court decision and the humans behind d in cooperation with the national constitution center, debuting monday, october 5th, at 9:00. last month, contractors working under the supervision of the epa caused a spill at the goldking mine in colorado, releasing toxic wastewater into a river. the incident was looked into at a hearing that included testimony from epa officials. mayor of durango, colorado.
over the last year, the environmental protection agency has proposed some of the most expensive and burdensome regulations in its history. these rules will cost american families billions of dollars, all for little impact on climate change. these rules also will dem inch earn the competitiveness of american workers around the world. the same government agency that has proposed these rules recently caused an environmental disaster that has adversely impacted three states in the mountain west. on august 5, near silverton, colorado, the negligence actions of the epa caused over 3 million-gallons of toxic water to cascade out of a mine that had been closed for almost 100 years. this event turned the animus river orange and polluted a 300-mile stretch of water. today, we will examine how this disaster, which negatively affected thousands of people
occurred and why the warning signs that should have prevented it from happening were negligently dismissed. had the epa exercised the same care in making their decisions as an order, prudent person, this whole incident could have been avoided. the epa should be held accountable. the same standards that the epa applies to private companies should also apply to the epa itself. unfortunately, epa administrator has declined to appear before this committee and answer questions about the role her agency played in causing this preventible spill. perhaps she doesn't have any good answers. given the epa's consistent failure to provide information to this committee and the american people, the epa can be assured that our oversight efforts will continue. the public deserves to know why the epa continues to spend so much of their hard-earned
dollars on costly and infective regulations, especially when the agency has been unable to achieve its core mission of presenti protecting the environment. the story would have been much different if the spill had been caused by a private company. i expect there would be calls for the executive of the company to resign. there would be demands that documents be posted online. massive fines would be imposed and no doubt some individuals would be prosecuted as happened in the 2014 west virginia chemical spill where 7500 gallons of chemicals were dumped into the elk river. this is about 1/400th. the epa's negligence is especially inexcusable, since there were known procedures that could have prevented the river's pollution.
unfortunately, we have seen a pattern of the epa's lack of transparency. this committee asked for information from the epa almost a month ago, and we have yet to receive all the documents that were requested. according to news reports, it took the epa over 24 hours to inform the public about the seriousness of the spill, and their initial claim of 1 million-gallons of toxic waste was later revised when it was learned there was actually 3 million-gallons. then after the incident, all we heard from the epa was that the toxic river in the river was dissipating and that the river was returning to pre-spill levels. the epa neither took responsibility, nor were they forthright with the person people. so it's not surprising to learn that just this past spring the epa received a grade of d for its lack of openness and transparency, according to the non-partisan center for effective government. it is my hope that the epa will finally come clean with the
american people about their involvement in this tragic incident. and that concludes my opening statement. and ranking member, the gentle woman from texas is recognized for hers. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. appreciate the fact that we are holding this hearing today. the august 5th release of 3 million-gallons of wastewater from the gold king mine in silverton, colorado was an unfortunate accident. i believe it is important to understand what happened on august 5th and why. and explore what lessons we can learn from this event. however, we should also take this opportunity to highlight the inherently dirty, dangerous and environmentally damaging procepr process of metal mining. before this accident occurred, gold king and a handful of other mines in the area were releasing more than 300 million-gallons of
acid mine waste into the animus water should annually. over the area's 120 year history, products containing toxic chemicals were released into this waterway. unfortunately, residents of the san juan county are well aware that august 5th was not the first time the animus river changed colors. in the 1970s, mine accidents poured millions of gallons of wastewater into the river. sadly, acid mine drainage in this area is routine. and the occasional large-scale release of wastewater due to accidents at mine sites is an all-too-common occurrence. i would like to show a photo
that ran in the durango herald newspaper in 2012 that shows toxic waste, following from the american terminal three years before. the recent accident of the gold king mine. the second picture was taken before the red and bonita mine, and the wastewater's draining into the cement creek. a tributary that feeds into the animus river. this photo was taken in 2013. this was one of the key reasons that epa was at the gold king mine site on august 5th. they were there attempting to investigate this long-standing problem of persistent acid mine drainage into the animus watershed, from the gold king and neighboring interconnected mines. epa was also attempting to alleviate ha wwhat was seen as inevitable blowout at the gold
king mines due to a build up of drainage water that may have been caused by the closure of the american tunnel, a mine drainage system at the nearby sunnyside mine. they were unsuccessful in trying to prevent a blowout from occurring. these next two photos show the discoloration of the animus river immediately after the august 5th accident. and the next two photos show that the animus river looked like august 12th and august 14th. seven and nine days after the gold mine accident. fortunately, the metal concentrations in the water that led to the discoloration of the animus river quickly returned to pre-incident levels. i'm not discounting the significance of august 5th event of the gold king mine. but it's potentially
environmentally impact -- or its potential environmental impact, but it's important to understand that the issue of mine drainage into the animus watershed did not begin last month. the epa was acting as an environmental firefighter when they went to the gold mine, gold king mine. they were attempting to damp down a raging environmental hazard that had endangered the animus watershed for decades. unfortunately, when they opened an explore torrial hole, the build up of wastewater drainage was too much to effectively control. i hope that our witnesses, technically mayor dean brooking, the mayor of durango, colorado, located 50 miles downstream from the gold king and hundreds of other inactive mine sites can help address both of the events leading up to the august 5th blowout at the gold king mine. the legacy of metal mining operations on the animus
watershed and useful next steps to consider in helping to prevent further environmental degradation in this truly beautiful region of our nation. thank you, mr. chairman, and yield back. >> thank you ms. johnson. now i'll proceed to introduce our witnesses. our first witness is the honorable matthew stanislaus, from the office of solid waste and emergency response. mr. stanislaus was nominated and confirmed by the u.s. senate in 2009. he received his law degree from chicago kent law school in a chemical engineering degree from city college of new york. our next witness is mr. dennis greeney, president of environmental restoration, l.l.c. he received his bachelor of science from university of illinois, urbana, champaign.
our next witness is dr. donald benn, the executive director of the navajo nations environmental protection agency. dr. benn received his phd. the next is the mayor of durango, colorado. he received his masters in architecture from the university of colorado at boulder. the next witness is a chemist with over 25 years of experience. he has been involved in geochemical studies and site evaluations across the united states, involving field, laboratory and computational components. dr. williamson's background includes extensive work with acid mine drainage, metals in aquatic environments, geochemical engineering and the fate of transport of chemicals in the environment. he has a masters degree from
northern arizona university. and we welcome you all, look forward to your testimony, and mr. stanislaus, would you start us off. >> sure. good morning, chairman smith, ranking member johnson and members of the committee. i am with the epa's office of solid waste and emergency response. that is responsible for epa's cleanup program. thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the gold king mine release and subsequent epa response. located within the watersheds of san juan mountains in southwestern colorado are some 400 former mines, which were the focus of large and small-scale mining operations for over 100 years. the gold king mine is located in the upper animus water should which consists of three mainstreams. the animus river, cement creek and mineral creek. in 1991, mining ceased at the
last big mine in the region, sunnyside. subsequently, based on a permit issued by the state of colorado, sunnyside installed three bulk heads that drained its mine while trying to treat the waters draining into upper cement creek through a water treatment facility. after sunny side installed the bulk heads, water seeped into natural fractures that allowed it to flow into the gold king and red and bonita mines. initially these waters are run through a treatment system that sunnyside built but gold king mining company ultimately stopped operating the system. in 2008, they continued the efforts by a reclamation plan within gold king mine. based upon data from 2009 to 2014, flow data, the annual
water discharge from gold king mine and three nearby mines reached approximately 300 -- at the request of local stakeholders, by 2014, epa joined the colorado division of reclamation mining and safety to address both the potential of water buildup and ongoing impacts caused by these large mine discharges into the upper animus watershed. working with the state of colorado and the animus river stakeholder group, epa developed plans to reduce potential mine water pressure and reduce mine discharges into seem creek and downstream waters. in 2014, initial work was performed at the gold king mine to release some water buildup. on august 5th, 2015, epa was conducting an investigation of the gold king mine. work was under way to allow rye
opening to affect water conditions and determine appropriate mine mitigation mettures. while excavating above a mine opening, the lower portion of bedrock crumbled and pressurized water of approximatelymillion gallon fs water behind the collapsed material, discharging to cement creek, a tributary of the animus river. within colorado, the day of the event and before the plume reached drinking water intake, the following day, other jurisdictions were notified, again, before the plume reached drinking water intake and other die versions. agricultural intakes were able to be closed prior to down plume release reaching those intakes. however, broader notification should have occurred. i have issued a guidance memo to all ten regions to work with
state, tribal and local partners to enhance our joint notification responsibility and processes. i understand the state of colorado is moving forward in the same vein. on august26, 2015, epa released its internal review report which included an assessment of the events and potential factors contributing to the gold mine incident. the work accounted for the water conditions due to blockages at the gold king mine and steps to lower the blockage and water buildup. the review team found that experienced professionals from the epa and the state of colorado concluded there was likely or low mine water pressure. however, given the release that was in fact high enough water pressure to cause a blowout, the summary report concludes that the water inside the mine working was likely the most significant factor related to the release. the report indicates that side
conditions made difficult to determine the pressure within the mine. i do have a lot more to talk about. but i'll take your questions and respond to those. >> thank you, mr. stanislaus, and mr. greeney. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> make sure your mic is on, there. okay. >> let me start it again. chairman smith, ranking member johnson and other distinguished members of the committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify on recent incidents at the gold king mine. my name is dennis greeney. i haserved in my role since 199. my entire career goes back 30 years. we were one of the organizations involved in epa's efforts at the silverton site. that said, professionals who have dedicated ouren tire careers to cleaning up the
environment, the end result was heartbreaking to say the least. if i may, i'd like to give you a bit of background about our company. environme environmental remediation company. it provides services to individual, state and federal agencies and we're very passionate about our work and honored to provide services in some of the largest sandy, eire postal services, and finally, the 9/11 attacks on the world trade center. as a company, environmental restoration is committed to providing a safe environment for our workers. that is our number one priority. we can demonstrate that through our modification rate which is a .72 compared to an industry
standard of 1. as with many epa projects, we were one of several organizations with assigned roles at the gold king mine. for the gold king, environmental restoration was issued a task order, we were requested to open the portal, as well as rehabilitate the mine opening to allow safe passage into the mine and create safe access 75 feet into the tunnel. within that task we had sub elements which included a site preparation phase, constructing roads and treatment ponds. the rehabilitation of the mine and tunnel. we were to anticipate water approximately 6 feet deep on the backside of the site entrance.
the gallons estimated was 250,000 gallons, as we now know there was much more water than experts believed. i was not personally involved or on the site when it, when the release occurred. however, here's what i have learned. the release occurred during a preliminary trip to the mine. and prior to environmental restoration initiating our work of opening the mine, during this preliminary trip we were directed to remove rubble and debris that had caved in over the mine opening, an effort to expose the bedrock above the mine tunnel. the removal of the material was carried out with all due caution over a two-day period and under the guidance of the epa on site coordinator and abandoned mine representatives from the colorado inactive mine program. the gold king release followed the removal from above the mean entrance. it was a terrible misfortune for the animus.
and it was gut-wrenching to watch the after februaeffects o release. this in no way reflebs who we are as a company. we're very proud of our track record. we've conducted 1,200 tasks for the epa as well as other agencies. we're very grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to help safe guard people and the environment, and we hope to continue in that capacity for a long time. i'd like to thank you for your attention and time, and i'm open to answer questions to the best of my ability. >> thank you, mr. greeney, and dr. benn? >> chairman smith, ranking member and members of the committee, my name is dr. benn. i'm a chemist by trade and the executive director of the navajo nation environmental protection agency. thank you for this opportunity to testify on a matter of great importance to the navajo nation.
on august 5th, 2015, the united states epa and other parties caused a massive release of objection to eck contaminates from the gold king mine. the toxic sludge throwed into the river and through 215 miles of the navajo territory. we had a good relationship with epa with the u.s. epa, however, recent events have shifted that relationship to one of lack of trust. today i would like to cover only a few of the many critical areas of concern for the navajo people. these issues and others are covered more extensively in my written remarks. first, the u.s. epa delayed information to the navajo nation. it was not released until august 6. they down-played the magnitude
of the risk of human and animal health. and later reports by u.s. epa were incomplete. initially, the navajo nation expressed concern for the u.s. epa handing out and encouraging members of the navajo nation to fill out their form to expedite settlement of their claims. these incidents have led to a culture of distrust toward the epa both among our farmers and leadership. i also want to lay out some of the devastating impacts of the navajo nation. however, i want to stress that all the impacts are yet unknown. first, families have the immediate impact of the additional cost of water delivery and other expenses to, despite this effort, they saw their crops dying each day. second, the loss of crops and the placement of those crops, their seed for their live stock and other, triggers long-term
expenses for a nation that already has 42% unemployment rate. third, long-term health effects are not known or fully understood. fourth, the cultural and spiritual impacts are felt in our culture that expresses beauty and harmony. we need to act quickly and thoughtfully. we therefore ask for the following. number one, we need resource to address the immediate emergency. this includes continued delivery of water and hay to impacted ranchers. they should establish a relief fund for individual ranchers and farmers, we also need true emergency response coordination with fema. we need resources to conduct our own soil monitoring.conduct the
duties. we will require an on-site lab. number three, we need assistance to create redundant and auxiliary water supplies ande r -- reservoirs. we will request study for long term effects and to return the river to pre-spill site. we seek to share an independent assessment of the u.s. epa's and others' roles in the spill and establishment of a different lead agency. no other environmental bad actor would be given leeway to investigate itself to determine what extent it would be held accountable. we believe another agency, such as fema, should take the lead on
the response and an independent body should conduct the investigation. i welcome any questions from your committee. >> thank you, dr. benn, and mayor brooking? >> i am dean brooking, mayor of durango, colorado at the base of the san juan mountains, along the animus river. i have lived and wrerecreated ag those mountains since 1980. our current economy is not dependant on mining but rather outdoor recreation, arts and other cultural amenities. the mine released wastewater into the river and put a spotlight on the century-old
problem that our kpcommunities have lacked the resources to address. 3 million gallons were released but this is not a one-time incident. about 3 million drain out each week. prior to and subsequent to this event. that is the quiet but real catastrophe that has largely gone unnoticed by the public until now. our rivers are what bind us together as communities. the veins of the animus river flow into other arteries of the werks including the san juan river, before reaching lake powell. from there, it joins the colorado that flows to the grand canyon, into lake mead. a water-source for los angeles, and san diego. it is tempting in times of crisis to poichts fingers and place blame. after 130 years, thousands of mines, millions of individual actors and literally billions of gallons of polluted water,
attempts to blame single entities or individuals ignores the score of the problem to be addressed. we must do much more quickly and with greater resolve to comprehensively address the water quality threats to our region before they result in far greater harm to our communities as well as additional cost to government. the epa must be held accountable for this accident. every indication we have received from them shows that they are taking this incident seriously. there's no denying, they had their hands on the shovel, but the epa was at the gold king mine trying to help address these long-standing issues. in fact, the blowout could have happened naturally the day before or any day in the future. without the epa, the federal government more broadly and the federal government more broadly, there's no option to defining the risk. yes, we can and should hold responsible parties in the
mining industry accountable as well. local, state, not-for-profits and businesses also have a role to play. fundamentally, though, our community needs the scientific, technological and financial leadership of the epa to guide a collaborative process for addressing the broader problem. i see before us a watershed home to turn a new chapter in mining history. i hope that the committee will join us to achieve a comprehensive, science-based solution and help ensure that the epa and other federal agencies have the resources and year direction needed to ensure the gold king release is the last time we need to be reminded of this long-term problem before taking action. the city of durango welcomes the committee's help to address risks and vulnerabilities posed by water pollution in the animus river, including supporting the request of the epa for over $50 million to build a new water treatment plant and to create a
redundancy to our city's water supply. responding to this event, a bipartisan coalition of senators and congress men has asked to look at a water treatment plant in silverton as well. i ask that you look at the 1872 mining law that takes us from the 19th century into the 21st century. and consider a royalty on mining companies, the same royalty as paid by other industries that would be used for cleanup. lastly, the good samaritan legislation proposed during the last congress could be an additional tool used toward long-term solution for cleaning up abandoned mines at less cost to government. i'm certain that we have the capacity to work together to develop an efficient, equitable and scientifically sound approach to ensure the leg say that we leave our children is not one of accusation and ra
rancor, but action. inaction will result in problems to all taxpayers. please see my written comes for more about the environmental impact in the san juan mountains, cleanup, and the notification of cleanup activities by the epa. thank you for your time. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mayor brooking, and dr. williams. >> good morning chairman smith, members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to be here today and contribute what i may. my name is mark williamson. i'm a geochemist living in colorado. for the whole of my professional career and extending back into my graduate days, i have focussed on acid rock drainage, the type of solution discharged from the gold king mine, its management and associated issues
of metals in aquatic and terrestrial environments. i'm present to offer my education and experience to the committee in its examination of the circumstances surrounding the discharge of acid rock drainage, ard, from the gold king mine. like many of my fell low coloradans, other professionals that work with ard, i was disturbed by the discharge from the gold king mine. ard has a significant impact on water resources, negatively affecting thousands of miles of streams and rivers throughout the united states. to control but not necessarily eliminate the discharge of ard from disused mines, engineered plugging of mine openings to regulate the flow has been a simple, relatively effective management technique, but results in a refilling of mine workings with water. at the gold king mine, work plans from 2014 and 2015 that i've f$ñ been able to see indic
that such refilling wasn't anticipated and that a potential blowout condition was deemed to exist at the collapsed gold king mine portal, prompting the need for action. despite the anticipation filling of the workings and the potential blowout condition, field operations at the gold king mine used excavation equipment to dig open the collapsed mine portal. it is not clear to me that any investigations were conducted to assess how much water was present behind the collapse or if there was any water at all. given the uncertainty, the potential negative consequences and with the benefit of hindsight, a detailed assessment of the situation would have been advisable, but i am not aware of such documentation. any number of lines of investigation are familiar to me that may have been pursued, including drilling a bore hole behind the collapsed feature, inspecting the area for seeps, bore holes that extend into the workings, reviewing and
inspecting old ermine maps for potential openings or as documented in the work plans of 2015, inserting a pipe through the collapsed feature to check for the presence of water. of these, a bore hole, and a pipe piercing the collapse can be used to pump out water to the extent it is present in a controlled matter to remove the water and its associated risk. it is not clear to me from materials made public that any such investigation or evaluations were conducted. without further documentation, it cannot be determined if site operations arbitrarily abandoned the conceptual site model or if conditions behind the dam led to a paradigm shift. given the lack of specific documentation, it appears that risk reducing evaluations may not have been conducted. the resulting discharge of ard from the gold king mine was comprised of an acidic metal
bearing solution as well as a metal-cun taking sludge. both of these can and do result in negative effects on the quality of receiving streams. the solution phase can result in immediate acute impacts and the sludge acute impacts as well as more chronic conditions. acute appears to have been temporal. the chronic, long-term effects are undocumented and unclear at this time. in closing, i'll thank you again for the opportunity to be here and contribute and point out that managing ard is very difficult, especially in a historic mining district. given the challenging conditions and the potential harm, care is warranted in pursuing remedial activities, owing to the lack of available information, it is not clear just how much care was exercised in the gold king situation. however, i am optimistic that we will learn the details of this
unfortunate event so that such things can be successfully avoided in the future. thank you. >> and thank you, dr. williamson. before we go to questions, i'd like to recognize the gentleman from new mexico, steve pierce, who obviously has an interest in the subject at hand, and we welcome him to the committee today. mr. stanislaus, let me direct my first question to you. on august 26, stan maiberg told reporters that there was no evidence to suggest that precautionary measures were needed. however, i'd like to show you two documents on the screens, first is a 2014 epa task order, and the second is your own contractor's work plan from 2015. both documents described the potentially dangerous conditions at the mine and specifically both state, and because the print is so small i'll read it on this power point, conditions may exist that could result in a
blowout of the blockages and cause large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine which contain heavy concentrated metals, end quote. i'd like to go to the second power point slide and this reads, this is from the internal epa e-mail that appears to address the potential dangeres to the mine. the mine should be assumed to be full of water. it is backed up to the top of the plug or higher. so my question, mr. stanislaus is this. why did the epa ignore these obvious warnings? >> well, for multiple of years, jñ colorado, locals had identified the fact of water buildup and the cave in situations. >> so that even underlines my question even more. so why were the warnings ignored? you were on notice for years. we saw the ranking member put slides up. we've had other spills. why were the warnings ignored?
>> the warnings were not ignored. it began with the identification of this particular circumstance. the reason epa was there was to address the water buildup and the cave in situations. >> my question was, if they weren't ignored, why did the incident occur? >> sure. >> why didn't you take the precautionary steps? >> very specifically, to remove the rock build up from the cave ins and reduce that water. the work that was being done at gold king mine was an assessment to identify what the particular circumstance existed at the gold king mine. so at this point, >> did you think there was any danger at this mine? >> clearly both epa and the state of colorado identified the risk of a blowout. this is built up because of a result of cave ins over the years and water build up. so that is the reason why we
were up at that mine. so what we know at this moment is the internal review concluded that this is identified up front. the work plan incorporated these capital measures. the experts of epa and the state of colorado looked at the site conditions, looked at flows and concluded that there were low pressure situations. >> okay, then what went wrong? if you knew there was a danger, and you made a conscious decision to proceed, something went terribly wrong. why did you proceed if you knew the dangers were so great, or did you proceed in some form of negligent fashion because clearly you didn't expect and didn't want this spill to occur? >> sure, again, none of us wanted the spill to occur. the reason why we were there, to avoid this employout. the reason we were there was to avoid that blowout, so what we were doing there was actually doing investigative work. and per the work dqoplan, we h
the plan was to carefully reduce the build up on the cave mine in. then to insert pipe -- >> i understand what you might have had planned. again, something went terribly wrong. it seems to me you did not heed the dangers or did not act to prevent the spill from occurring in an adequate fashion or the spill would not have occurred. do you feel that anyone was negligent at all? >> again, at this moment, what we have is an internal review. we're awaiting the independent review being done by the department of interior as well as the inspector general, we will await the completion of all of those to make that assessment. >> and to date, has anybody been held accountable or not? >> well, we've held ourselves accountable. and most immediately, we've worked with the state and local communities to address the response. we've been working in a unified way, collecting data, communicating that data to local
stakeholders so they can make decisions. >> that's all well and good, but still a tragic spill occurred. it looks like to many of us that no one's been held accountable. there had to be negligence or the spill wouldn't have kurd. and yet the epa doesn't seem to acknowledge any negligence. it doesn't seem to take any responsibility. and that's simply a disappointment i have to tell you. i have time for one more question, let me address it to dr. greeny and mr. williamson. do you think this toxic spill was inevitable? if you could answer it yes or no, that would be good. do you think a toxic spill was inevitable? >> i guess i'm not really qualified -- >> is that no? >> from an assessment standpoint to really answer that question. certainly, there was buildup that would have gone somewhere at some point, but i don't, i do not know if it would have resulted in a blow -- >> okay. and dr. williamson?
>> i would ultimately like to rely on more detailed evaluations, however, i once say that it's necessarily inevitable. it was, in fact, holding back quite a lot of water at this point, and there are other locations within the district that i'm aware of that act as opportunities for releasing pressure, so it's, it remains to be seen. it would have to be forecast with a little more certainty, i think. >> okay. thank you all. and the gentle woman from texas, ms. johnson's recognized for her questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. stanislaus, how did epa come to be involved with the efforts to address mine wastewater leakage at this gold king mine? >> it actually began when the american tunnel got plugged. when it got plugged -- and this of colorado with the sunny side corporation. that plug in resulted in the water increasing up to the red
and bonita mine and the gold king mine. subsequently, water seeps went into cement creek and animus river. the stakeholders then asked the epa, along with the state of colorado to get involved to address that risk of water flow into the animus river as well as the cave in at the gold king mine. >> now i've heard that the installation of the last bulk head of the american tunnel in 2002 may have been a supouuperig cause. can you talk about what its relationship might be to august 5th blowout at the gold king mine? >> yeah. epa was not directly involved in that decision. what we do know from the internal review that was conducted was that a permit was issued by the state of colorado to sunny side mine that plugged the mine, you know, and as dr.
williamson noted, that once you plug a mine you will have water plug a mine you will have wakpá water backup to the red and bonita mine, which is the mine right on top of that and then the gold king mine which then subsequently lid to the water releases to cement creek and the animus river. >> thank you. mayor brookings, thank you for your testimony. and your characterization of the spotlight that has been placed on the problems facing your constituents and others for decades if not longer. while i understand that the mining played an important role in16z,÷ economic development of western united states, the impacts of abandoned mines are difficult to ignore. you know in your written testimony that mine blowouts like the one on august 5th are not uncommon, putting this most recent release in context, could you describe some of the past
challenges your region has had to deal with as a result of mining activities? >> certainly. we have since the 1880s downstream grappled with pollution in the animus river as a result of acid mine drainage, because in 1980, the mines dumped this directly into the river. it was, and by the 1890s, the animus river that ran through durango ran gray and turbid, it was quoting the herald from the 1890s, nearly every day due to millings dumped into the river. back in 1890, our town was covered with gray, turbid river. it was not the clear river we have today. in 1902, durango shifted its
potable water-source to another river that comes from another watershed that has less mining activity. so as far as ago as 1902 we changed our primary water-source. we still use in summertime, the animus river for the, it goes to our treatment facility, but it's primarily used only in the summertime for irrigation of a nufrm the fie number of the fields and lawns and so forth. our water requirement increases by fourfold in the summertime. north of durango, farmers threatened to sue the mining companies, took legal action against the mine because the tailings were clogging their ditches. similarly to what the navajo nation is experiencing today. the mine blowouts like the 1975,
a huge tailing pond busted, sending 50,000 tons of tailings into the animus, turning it the color of aluminum paint. this was prior to my arrival in durango, and people were still talking about this release. if you can imagine, you pick a color. this was gray, it didn't show up on t vch as bright as orange tech any color orange, but we had the same thing happen in 1975. 1978, there was a huge burst of tens of millions of gallons of water and sludge came down our river. this time it was black, all the way to farmington. so pick your color, these are 24 different types of minerals that have impacted our river, our watershed, throwing all the way through durango, into new mexico, into arizona and ultimately into the colorado river. the gold king mine was draining
anywhere from 200 to 500 gallons per minute prior to the blowout. so if you can envision this mountain as a giant geologic whack a mole. you plug one and you build up the pressure of water. these are tunnels and vertical columns. they fill up with water naturally. and when these people are exploring the opportunity to release that somehow, and contain it, there was an accident. and so that is estimated at 60 feet of water that created that 3 million gallon release. it happened to be orange that day because of the orange oxide. that's probably the least-health-critical element. the color did bring national attention to this issue. we've had black. we've had gray. we've had all kinds of colors. last year in the spring there was a release of more than, a greater release than was
experienced in the gold king, but it's happened during the spring runoff in 2014, came down our very same river. we didn't even know it. navajos didn't know it. nobody knew it, because it happened to be in the normal turbid brown color of spring runoff and it came through our town. that's what happens. and that's what we have to deal with. >> mayor, thank you for that response. we let you go a little bit overtime, but that was interesting. let me recognize mr. loudermilk for his questions. >> as i was listening to the statements and answers to questions here today, i kind of heard a common theme as i've read the reports of this event is that it's not important for us to find out who's to blame right now but other than to clean up the spill. it's understandable. but, it seems to be when the government is at fault, they're not very anxious to figure out who's at fault, but if it's somebody else we're more than willing to point the blame, even
while the disaster and cleanup is going on. let me bring attention to 2010, the deep water horizon spill in the gulf of mexico. disastrous. it cost many people their jobs. many businesses went under because of this. even while we were attempting to clean it up, the government didn't hesitate to go ahead and point fingers as to who was to blame. in fact, the former epa administrator, lisa jackson, and janet napolitano sent a scathing letter to bp, saying they must be more transparent with what happened. dr. benn, has, in your opinion, the epa been transparent with what's gone on so far? >> thank you for that question. well, as far as the farmers and the ranchers are concerned, they hadn't really been as
transparent. >> okay. thank you. mr. stanislaus, i appreciate you saying eventually we're going to get to what the issue is. but why are we only being transparent when this committee goes forward and demands answers. why is not the epa coming more aggressively right now and coming out with what was the cause, and what are we going to do to fix the situation. when are we going to see the transparency that this government demands a private industry or individuals when they're clearly at fault? >> well, thank you, congressman. we believe we've been as transparent as we possibly co. our initial focus was absolutely to collect the data and provide data in the hands of local communities of the states and tribes to make decisions. subsequent to that, we posted about 2500 pages of documents, documents regarding the work
plan, documents regarding the request proposal, documents regarding community meetings held with stakeholders, and we will continue to do so. with respect to holding ourselves accountable, you know, we first began with immediately and as aggressively as possible to conduct a response in a unified way of making sure that the state and local government and tribes are part of the unified kmants command. we've done internal review. i was very interested what lessons learned relate to other sites around the country. and what lessons learned in terms of what transpired there. but that's only part of the puzzle. >> have you been more transparent than bp was? >> have i been more transparent -- i think we've been very transparent, but having been involved in the bp spill as well, we in fact pushed transparency there. i believe we executed the same level of transparency here. >> ultimately, who's going to be held responsible for this?
>> that is exactly where we are in the process of examining. we've dna internal review. we have two other independent reviews, and we will see the culmination of that regarding what were the preparation and facts going into that event, how were they executed, and we're going to look at all of that. >> do you agree you should be held to the same standards that you hold everyone else to? you agree to that? >> absolutely. >> after the deep horizon spill, president obama appeared on the "today" show and said the president bp, had he been working for him he would have already been fired because of his role in the spill. do you think we should hold the same standards? gina mccarthy, should we have called for her to be fired? if definitely the epa is responsible for this spill? >> well, i think we all want a factor in the process. so we've done one step of the
investigation. we await the independent review, and i think all the members, all the public, i've also called for independent reviews. we're going to see the culmination of that in a roughly, a department of interior's doing a study in 60 days, i don't recall exactly when the inspector general will be completing. i'm responsible for the cleanup around the country as it goes to state and local governments. i more than anyone else want to make sure that we are doing the right thing. >> all i'm asking for is that hypocrisy of this government, that it holds itself to the same standard that it holds its people to. >> i don't remember president obama waiting for an independent review, giving the comments you just said. the gentle woman from oregon is
recognized. >> there's absolutely no question that what happened in colorado is tragic, and i want to thank the witnesses for being here to help us learn more about how it happened, if and when it could have been preevented and talk about the lessons learned. we also have to keep in mind that there are inherent environmental dangers from metal mining operations and that there are thousands of inactive mines around the country that are consistently leaking toxic wastewater full of heavy metals into creeks, streams and rivers, so we need the environmental protection agency to review mining operations to make sure they do not endanger crucial watersheds, and i also want to talk about the need to be proactive here and mention hubble mine in alaska, pebble mine would like lay have ha negative impact on the local
watershed and salmon fisheries. congressman mcdermott and i led a group of our colleagues to protect bristol bay. fisheries in that region provide millions of dollars and jobs to the economy. but also oregon and the entire northwest. and the potential damage from a massive mine accident is a serious threat, and i hope that the lessons learned in colorado are considered in that ongoing process. but back to colorado. mr. stanislaus, you said in your testimony that based on 2009 to 2014 flow data, the average annual discharge reached approximately 330 million-gallons per year. and the epa and the state of colorado and partners have been taking action to address that issue. so can you talk about the ongoing, those ongoing discharges and the work that was
being done there. the and and in your response, please discuss whether additional resources would have made a difference, and also would a superfund designation or listing of the gold king mine affected the resources and the approach available for cleanup and remediation. and i do want to save time for one more question. >> sure. so most recently, the animus stakeholder group and the state of colorado asked for assistance for technical expertise. that's what led us to the mind, the red and bonita and gold king mine. there was a group who identified congresswoman, the multiple sources into the river that degrade the water call with, in fact, 10 miles above the animus river is degraded and fish health is severely compromised. so just last week at the request of local communities, i traveled
to silverton to talk about whether a listing of gold king as a superfund would affect that issue. and i mentioned that to be eligible for superfund sources, they have to be listed on the national list. >> i want to ask you to follow up on that, mayor. i represent a district in oregon and really understand the importance of preserving natural resources, and that's especially important to our tourism industry, which i know you share those concerns as well. so can you talk about how this recent release, which, of course, we all watched on television, some of you up close first hand, how has it been treated in the media? can you talk about what the coverage has done to your local economy and also the superfund designation. i know that's a discussion that's ongoing in your community. >> surely. i might add that ms. gina mccarthy was in durango, took
full responsibility for epa's role in this event, she was at a plastic table and a metal folding chair closer than the chairman and myself sitting together and she took full responsibility. i did get a phone call the thursday after the event from shawn mcgrath, the epa director asking from the city's perspective if we need any assistance at all from this event. by the way, we were notified within an hour and a half at city hall of the release. the event happened at about 10:58. and we were notified at 1:39 in the afternoon. and that allowed us to shut down our pump stations, protect our potable water supply. >> can i ask you who notified you? >> the colorado department of health, public health and environment cdphe is the appropriate protocol from epa to notify the state health department. they notify downstream parties, which we were notified within an hour and a half. >> can you briefly address the
effect on tourism? >> as you might imagine, i found myself in a barrage of cameras, everybody from al jazeera to fox news channel, holding press conferences, et cetera, infinitely showing the orange plume. i can tell you that orange plume no longer exists in dur ang guy. it lasted for a day and a half until it moved downstream to the navajo nation. but we immediately -- >> mayor brooking, we've again run out of time and appreciate your response. we now go to the gentleman from louisiana, mr. abraham. >> mr. chairman, first, let me express my, i guess, gall at the
director not being here. i find it somewhat unconscionable that ms. mccarthy chose not to be present at this hearing. saying that, you said in your testimony that your experts at the epa underestimated the water pressure. now i'm nothydrologist, but i can certainly estimate water pressure pretty easily with equipment. i've done it on my farm many times. if they underestimated this, have they underestimated water pressure at other mines? i'm talking to you mr. stanislaus. >> so just to be clear, i mean, i am here because my responsibility -- >> i understand you're the cleanup line. you're fourth in the lineup as
far as batters are concerned, and really, you shouldn't even be here, because it shouldn't have happened in the first place. you wouldn't even have a role in this. so my question to you is your experts at epa, you have said in your testimony, underestimated the water pressure. have they done this in other places? >> so, the pressure was not estimated. you know, the review report concluded is that when they got onto the site. they identified the potential for blowout conditions. >> let me interrupt, excuse me, sir. would you and mr. stanislaus, if you knew there was a potential of employout, was there a mitigation plan in place for this potential disaster? >> the blowout potential as was identified following the issuance of the task order and some initial site work, again,
represented there was 6 foot of water behind that bulk head, i'm sorry, not bulk head, the collapsed tunnel. the intent, then, of the work plan was essentially to come in, using that top 4 foot of open space between the water level and -- >> did you have a mitigation plan in place for this potential blowout? because you knew it was a potential thing to happen? we all have mitigation plans in life for certain instances that can happen. and did you have one in your company? >> we had a management plan, to, again, use the probe, much as dr. williamson had suggested, to insert into the well or into the mine and start pumping water. >> so that was your of mitigation plan. if it started to blow, you all were just going to start pumping water out. >> i guess we're, i'm not sure, you're using mitigation. i'm using management plan. you're looking for a contingency
plan? >> yes. let's agree on that word. if it happened, what is your immediate first step, and did that happen? >> again, the blowout occurred during the initial -- we had not started our site work. we were not prepared to enter the -- >> that answered the question. you weren't there, okay. and mayor brooking, you said that the epa, the good news that day was that the epa was actually there when it happened and i would use the analogy in medicine that a surgeon working on a lung slices the heart open and we are happy that surgeon just happened to be there because he sliced the heart open. that is beyond pale that we're at this point where we have to have this hearing because nobody, like the chairman said, there is probably a lack of transparency, and i think a lack of forthrightfulness here. mr. stanislaus, has epa actuated
the money cost to this spill? >> at this moment, we've expended about $8 million of direct response cause. >> how about mr. benn, as far as the navajos, what he's asking for. have you factored that cost into your figures? >> well, we have begun to pay response cost by those who have asked local governments. we're going to do that separately. wea we're going to be working through that process and completing the process within six months. >> thank you mr. maybe habraham gentleman from colorado is recognized for his questions. >> okay. thank you. i'd like to welcome my fellow coloradans to washington, d.c., gentlemen, thank you for your testimony, all of you, thank you for your testimony today. part of this is i feel like, you
know, we're in the early stages of litigation, and i, the chairman, i think, maybe a frustrated litigator wanting to figure out who was negligent, who wasn't negligent, who's responsible for this, what happened. appreciate the fact that the epa got to the department of health in colorado quickly, who got to durango, quickly. to share this. there apparently was some brake do -- break down in communication getting to the navajo nation. a court is going to figure out exactly what happened, when it happened, should it have happened, dr. williamson, but i'd like to ask some other questions, because i think dr. be benn, you suggested some things that the epa should consider in the short term and in the long term, one was help you with some monitoring devices to keep an