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Navajo President Calls For More Reimbursement For Mine Spill Damage

It’s been more than a year since a Colorado mine waste spill contaminated waters across three states and the Navajo Nation. And Navajo President Russell Begaye is renewing the tribe’s call for reimbursement for farmers affected by the incident.

Begaye says the Gold King Mine spill was devastating for Navajo farmers, and the $445,000 the Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded in response is only a quarter of what the spill has cost the tribe so far. Begaye was among the tribal, state and local officials who participated recently in a discussion marking the one-year anniversary of the spill.

An EPA-led crew triggered the spill during preliminary cleanup work on Aug. 5, 2015. Three million gallons of wastewater carrying arsenic, lead and other heavy metals tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.