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Tom Udall

EPA chief: Agency did not shirk responsibility in mine spill

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency dismissed complaints Wednesday by Republican lawmakers that her agency downplayed the seriousness of a toxic mine spill that fouled rivers in three Western states.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy called the spill caused by her agency "tragic and unfortunate" and said the EPA has taken responsibility to ensure that 3 million gallons of rust-colored sludge released into Colorado's Animas River is cleaned up. The Aug. 5 spill occurred during excavation work at an inactive gold mine near Silverton, Colorado.

Republican senators charged at a hearing Wednesday that EPA is treating itself more gingerly than if a private...