Navajo Nation President Begaye Requests FEMA Preliminary Gold King Mine Spill Damage Assessment

San Juan River photo

Published October 2, 2015

WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA – Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye Thursday formally requested a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in response to the Gold King Mine spill. A Preliminary Damage Assessment is the first step in the application process for public assistance for recovery from a disaster for eligible applicants.

“The spill caused damage to the water quality of the San Juan River to such a massive extent that a state of emergency was declared by the Navajo Nation,” wrote President Begaye in a letter to EPA Associate Administrator Elizabeth Zimmerman. “All of the economic, health, cultural and other impacts to the Navajo people are not yet known. Given the significance of the San Juan River to the health, welfare economy, and culture of our Nation and people, the Navajo Nation, as a federally recognized Indian tribe, officially and specifically requests a mission assignment for Technical Assistance to complete a Preliminary Damage Assessment for damages as sustained as a result of the Gold King Mine spill.”

Last month, FEMA rejected the Navajo Nation’s request for the appointment of a disaster-recovery coordinator to direct the federal government’s response to the crisis. During his testimony before Congress following the decision, President Begaye called on the federal government, and specially FEMA, to provide greater support to address the disaster caused by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spill.

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