HCCA Calling Forest Service and US Energy to Safeguard Community’s Watershed

A follow-up letter submitted last month called on Forest Supervisor Scott Armentrout to take immediate action to ensure that the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) operating on Mt. Emmons is properly permitted and bonded. Without a bond and authorization to operate, the public has no assurance that the plant is being operated properly or of the WTP’s future capability to safeguard Coal Creek. The WTP treats polluted water originating in the old Keystone mine workings, removing heavy metals including cadmium and zinc before the water enters Coal Creek.

HCCA began inquiring nearly three years ago on the status of the WTP’s permitting and bonding and learned that the current bond for the plant is only $1,000. By US Energy’s own estimate, it costs nearly $2 million per year to operate the WTP. In October 2012, the Forest Service issued a decision agreeing with HCCA that the 1979 construction permit that US Energy was relying to operate the plant was not valid. The Forest Service, however, decided at the same time that the permitting problem was moot in light of new the Plan of Operations for mining, which had just been submitted.

HCCA has raised the issue previously and now called for immediate action, noting that the Mine Plan of Operations does not authorize operation of the WTP, no bond exists for the WTP, and that the Forest Service’s failure to have such a bond violates federal law. Click here to read the full letter

Contact HCCA’s Public Lands Director, Alli Melton, with questions or to get more information at alli@hccaonline.org or 970.349.7104 ext. 2.