Ian Shavitz Quoted in Law360 on Fallout for EPA from Colorado Mine Spill

Ian Shavitz, senior counsel in Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice, was quoted in the Law360 article “Gold King Spill To Bring Shift In EPA Mine Cleanup Effort,” which addresses an August dam breach in Colorado, which allowed more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water to rush into a tributary of the Animas River.

Documents released following the spill indicate that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been warned as early as last year that a blowout was possible, which Shavitz said could push the agency’s culpability to reckless. With the results of two independent reports expected in the near future, he added that there might be punitive damages if “greater culpability can be identified that they were aware of this, that they disregarded [the warnings].”

Shavitz also said the incident could lead to some changes at the EPA. Given that the incident drew nationwide attention and prompted congressional hearings this month, he anticipates the agency knows it is going to be subject to a higher degree of scrutiny and will alter its practices accordingly by taking more care to address potential problems before they happen.