High Country Conservation Advocates and Red Lady Coalition Work to Ensure Safe and Effective Mine Cleanup That Protects Water, Local Community, and Economy

Crested Butte, CO—Friday July 25, Crested Butte non-profits High Country Conservation Advocates and Red Lady Coalition submitted a letter raising concern that a proposed mine cleanup plan, as it currently stands, would not ensure a safe and effective cleanup of contaminated water.  The contaminated water forms in old mine workings on Mt. Emmons and is currently treated at an existing water treatment plant.  Click here to read the letter and expert report.

“Right now, U.S. Energy’s application lacks necessary information to establish a proper monitoring regime, contingency plan, and best design practices,” said Alli Melton, the Public Lands Director for High Country Conservation Advocates.  “Given the site’s location in the Coal Creek Watershed, which provides drinking water to residences with wells and to the Town of Crested Butte, as well as the site’s close proximity to the Town of Crested Butte, these gaps in information are unacceptable and leaves our water and community vulnerable.”

Together the organizations hired an outside consulting firm, Integral Consulting, Inc., to conduct a thorough evaluation of U.S. Energy’s proposed action.  Integral is a national science and engineering firm that provides multidisciplinary services in the fields of health, environment, technology, and sustainability.  This evaluation notes the dearth of necessary information and notes additional issues the agency reviewing the application should address.

The activity U.S. Energy is currently proposing is through a state law called the Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Act.  The Act’s intent is to provide property owners with incentives to conduct voluntary cleanups on their private land.  This is meant to encourage private cleanup of brownfield sites, such as old gas stations, which then allows for the re-development and/or sale of the site.  “Since enactment,” said Melton, “certain types of mine cleanups, such as surface contamination cleanup and remediation, have occurred under this law.  To our knowledge, no cleanup as complicated or in such close proximity to a human population and drinking water sources has been carried out under this Act.”

Although HCCA is all for the proper and protective cleanup of mine contamination,  HCCA is not confident that, as the application currently stands, a safe and effective clean-up that safe-guards clean water and human health would result.  The letter asks the state agency reviewing the application, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, that should the proposal move forward, it must require U.S. Energy to provide necessary missing information so CDPHE can conduct a rigorous and thorough review of the proposal.


For More Information Contact:

Alli Melton, High Country Conservation Advocates Public Lands Director, (970) 349-7104 ext. 2