Chris Giunchigliani on the Unacceptable Treatment of Yerington Paiute Tribe British Petroleum Must Restore Water Delivery Service



A statement from Chris G:

For fourteen years, members of the Yerington Paiute Tribe have been receiving bottled water from the mining company responsible for one of the largest environmental disasters in the United States. This month, the mining company halted delivery of that water.

Nevada’s public lands are constantly under attack by the Trump Administration and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Their decision to leave the cleanup of one of the largest mining disaster sites in the nation to the very company responsible for the mess in the first place is unacceptable. This pattern of callous and intentional dismantling of the EPA and its mission is having serious consequences.

Last month, I visited the Anaconda Mine site with Yerington Paiute Chairman Laurie Thom and their consultant, Dr. McGinnis. I was appalled at the conditions- especially that it’s been decades since any real cleanup work has been done. Walls of dirt filled with radioactive materials and toxic heavy metals sit next to farmland, with clear signs that after every rain more and more of this poison makes its way into the ground.

This demonstrates yet another failure of leadership for Adam Laxalt. If the Attorney General was concerned with protecting Nevadans, especially the original Nevadans here long before statehood, he would intervene. Instead, BP has repeatedly taken advantage of the absence of the Attorney General’s office. Clearly he’s too busy pursuing far right causes and the interests of donors like the Koch brothers to serve the people he seeks to govern.

The lack of respect for tribal sovereignty by BP is unacceptable. When BP bought the Anaconda mine site, they knew they were accepting responsibility for this site in its entirety, including their obligations to the Tribe.

For over two decades, it has been clear that this disaster site qualified for the Superfund cleanup designation. As governor, I will file an executive order to have Anaconda listed as a Superfund site, and work with the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, the EPA, local governments, and the Inter-Tribal Council to determine the best path forward for speeding up the cleanup process. I will also ask the Department of Agriculture to begin a detailed study of the groundwater, and its effect on farming in the area.

Mining has a long history in Nevada, and many companies have acted responsibly. If Anaconda had taken proper precautions decades ago, their new ownership would not be in this situation. BP knew what they were getting into when they bought this site, and are now responsible for all that ownership entails. The tribes and residents of Yerington weren’t responsible for this disaster, and deserve better.

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