Environmental Protection Agency assesses permanent mine waste repository – The Durango Herald
Mayflower tailings impoundment provides large capacity for sludge created by water treatment
Members of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 visited the Bonita Peak mining district last week to assess remediation work and discuss future plans, including a permanent waste repository for the mining district .
The original purpose of the visit was to show new EPA Region 8 Administrator KC Becker the Superfund sites in the mining district, however, she fell ill before the trip and was unable to make the visit.
EPA Region 8 Superfund project manager Christina Progess said the goals of the Bonita Peak mining project are to improve water quality, minimize unplanned discharges and stabilize source areas.
“By stabilizing source areas, we mean stabilizing them against erosion or mining waste,” she said.
Progess discussed the current state of the Gold King mine, which infamously released toxic wastewater into the Animas River watershed in 2015. She said that since 2015 the EPA has operated the waste treatment plant. inland waters of Gladstone Water which treats the Gold King landfill. .
The processing plant removes metals from the mine that can impact water. However, the treatment plant creates sludge and the plant lacks the space to manage it. Progess is evaluating the design of a long-term mine waste repository located in the Mayflower Mill tailings impoundment.
She said the community wants the EPA to locate the waste dump in an area with pre-existing mine waste.
“The intent of the mining waste repository is a final resting place for all mining waste – both sludge from the Gladstone Water Treatment Plant and any other mining waste through our other mining efforts. sanitation,” said Progress.
Progess said the EPA hopes the repository will have enough capacity to last 100 years. Construction of the mining waste repository will begin next summer.
In addition to the remediation work, the EPA has been involved in ongoing litigation following the release of the Gold King mine. Recently, the EPA entered into an agreement with Sunnyside Gold Corp. for $90 million. The compensatory damages were split between the EPA, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the State of Colorado.
The EPA gained about $35 million from the settlement and will use the funds for additional remediation work at the Bonita Peak sites.
“This will allow us to fund the project for many years to come,” Progess said.
The EPA also settled with the State of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation for about $30 million each. Both had sued the EPA over the Gold King mine spill.
Progess said the EPA will also conduct contamination investigations in the Bonita Peak mining district.
Next year, the EPA will investigate the Sunnyside mine workings. The Sunnyside mine was a conglomeration of several mines that are a source of contamination at Cement Creek.
“We will drill several wells to try to understand how the water flows in these mining works,” Progess said. “It will help us understand if we needed to use certain remedies like bulk catchment, how that water would be held or where the water might go.”