DENVER — The U.S. Environmental Safety Company introduced three long-term objectives Wednesday for cleansing up the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund website in southwestern Colorado.
The objectives name for bettering water high quality in 4 sections of rivers and streams, stabilizing mine waste piles to maintain extra pollution from leaching into waterways and stopping huge releases of tainted water from mine shafts.
The Superfund website was established after the EPA inadvertently triggered an enormous spill of three million gallons (11 billion liters) of wastewater from the Gold King Mine in 2015, tainting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with a yellow-orange plume carrying poisonous metals. The Gold King is one in every of 48 mining-related websites included within the Superfund cleanup.
The objectives are preliminary and will change, stated Rebecca Thomas, the EPA’s workforce chief for the Bonita Peak district. The EPA will develop extra particular targets later, she stated.
The water high quality cleanup goal areas embody parts of the Animas River, the South Fork of Mineral Creek and Higher Mineral Creek. The purpose contains assembly or exceeding state water high quality requirements and bettering the habitat for fish and different aquatic life, stated Doug Benevento, EPA’s regional administrator based mostly in Denver.
The EPA has already outlined methods it may use to waste websites from bleeding extra contaminants into rivers. They embody stopping erosion of waste piles, blocking rain and snowmelt from seeping via them, eradicating waste rocks from stream banks, dredging sludge from settling ponds and capping waste rock piles that individuals camp or hike on.
Stopping future blowouts from mine shafts is the hardest of the three objectives, Thomas stated. The choices embody putting in bulkheads or boundaries contained in the mines to dam or regulate the drainage.
Wastewater generally pulses out of previous mines, nevertheless it’s unattainable to foretell when, Thomas stated. The bursts may very well be brought on by tunnel collapses or different occasions, she stated.
Benevento stated the EPA compiled the objectives after conferences with group members within the district, which lies north of Silverton. He stated he’s assured the company will come up with the money for to proceed the work.