In the aftermath of last year's Gold King Mine Spill, Congress is taking steps to assess the impact of the spill on tribal nations, to examine how the spill could have been prevented, and to discuss how the spill response efforts and communication with affected communities could be improved. Dr. R. Clark Lantz, UA SRP Associate Director and Investigator, was recently asked to provide testimony for a Field Oversight Hearing, held in Phoenix, Arizona on Aprill 22, 2016 to address these issues.
The hearing was organized by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and was run by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and by Arizona Senator John McCain. Two panels were heard. The first included testimony from The Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick, Representative from Arizona District 1, U.S. House of Representatives, who represents the affected region in Arizona. The second panel had five witnesses including the Honorable Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator with the Office of Land and Emergency Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC; the Honorable Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation, Window Rock, AZ; the Honorable Herman Honanie, Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, Kykotsmovi, AZ; the Honorable LoRenzo Bates, Speaker for the Navajo Nation Council, Window Rock, AZ; and Clark Lantz, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Head with the department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
All parties acknowledged that there is still much unknown about the long-term impacts of the spill. Dr. Lantz spoke specifically to possible health impacts of lead and arsenic released by the spill. In response to a question posed by Senator Barrasso, Dr. Lantz discussed the steps that should be taken to reduce exposures, especially in children. Among other approaches, he discussed the importance of testing children at ages of 1-2 or 3-6 years if lead exposure is suspected. Following his testimony, Dr. Lantz said he was glad for the opportunity to contribute to the hearing and to highlight the efforts of UA SRP personnel who responded to provide information to the community following the spill. A video of the hearing is available at: http://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/field-oversight-hearing-examining-epa-s-unacceptable-response-indian-tribes-april-22-2016