The Latest: EPA starts taking claims from people affected by Colorado mine spill

The latest in the Colorado mine spill (all times local):

10:33 a.m.

Tuesday marks the first day people affected by a Colorado mine spill can file claims with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency accidentally unleashed the contaminated wastewater last week as federal and contract workers inspected the abandoned mine near Silverton, Colorado. The agency estimates more than 3 million gallons of sludge laden with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals flowed at least 100 miles downstream to New Mexico.

Communities and farmers along the Animas and San Juan rivers were forced to stop using river water, and it's unclear when it will be safe to resume irrigating.

The EPA says it's committed to taking responsibility for the spill and effects to downstream communities.


9:53 a.m.

Colorado's governor is visiting a stretch of river contaminated by yellow wastewater that spilled from an abandoned mine.

Gov. John Hickenlooper began his visit Tuesday with a tour of a fish hatchery in the southwestern city of Durango. Cages have been placed in the Animas River there to catch fish and measure any effects on them from the spill. So far, officials say they see no problems.

Hickenlooper issued a disaster declaration for the area Monday, releasing $500,000 to assist businesses and towns affected after a federal mine cleanup operation accidentally released millions of gallons of sludge containing heavy metals, including lead and arsenic.

Stretches of the Animas River and the San Juan River it flows into have also been declared disaster areas in New Mexico.