Navajo Farmers Frustrated By Lack Of River Data

  • Marisa Demarco
  • Thursday, August 14, 2015
A mural near the San Juan River in Shiprock, N.M. MARISA DEMARCO / KUNM

A mural near the San Juan River in Shiprock, N.M.
MARISA DEMARCO / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Farmers near the San Juan are frustrated by the lack of data from the Environmental Protection Agency after pollutants were released from the Gold King Mine more than a week ago.

Toxins traveling through the Animas flowed into New Mexico’s San Juan, but it’s not yet known exactly what’s in the river on the Navajo Nation or at what concentrations. That’s at the root of a lot of worry for farmers in Shiprock, who fear the worst for their crops.

Shiprock Chapter Farm Board Representative Joe Ben Jr. said it’s been chaotic since the spill in Colorado, in part because there are no testing results for the river once it crosses onto the reservation.

“For this we are waiting and waiting and waiting to take a course of action,” he said. “This is the anguish I’m going through as an elected representative is the denial of information.”

The EPA didn’t respond to questions about testing on the reservation before airtime. Results for the upper Animas are online. The New Mexico Environment Department has also been testing.

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