Colorado Springs

EPA plan to truck toxic mine waste through Telluride isn’t sitting well with locals – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado 2021-08-02 06:35:00 –

The last wreckage of Telluride’s nasty mining heritage is causing headaches.

Last fall, the US Forest Office called the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the move of 34 acres of mining tailing on public land. Valley floor loved in town..

Soil tested near a popular hiking trail along the San Miguel River detected 2,000-100,000 ppm lead. The federal government was happy to accept 400ppm.

“That is, 10% of the dirt was lead. I quickly realized that this was a dangerous situation,” said Megan Eno, a district ranger for the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre National Forest and the Ganison National Forest.

When EPA sees its high levels of lead in addition to arsenic, The agency called the emergency response department The Tailings will be dug up and trucked to the mine waste storage site at the Idalado plant at the eastern end of the valley.

NS Crosstown transportation planning I’m not sitting well with the locals.

The EPA plans to transport approximately 30,000 cubic yards of toxic taillings through downtown Telluride and deposit them in large depots. (EPA distribution)

This week’s EPA will dig up about 30,000 cubic yards of toxic taillings and begin driving them through Telluride’s main streets to grassy depots. EPA contractors will drive 6 to 8 trucks an hour from one side to the other of Telluride over the next three to four months.

“They take it downstream and move upstream. They drive a truck with toxic taillings next to all the restaurants and pocket parks on the main street. Through the neighborhood of the house. EPA “They haven’t instilled confidence that this was dialed,” said Tom Watkinson, a Telride city council member who attended three meetings in late July, outlining the plan. I know I need to get rid of this, but do I do all the due diligence to move it safely and store it safely? “

The EPA delayed the start of the project, allowing authorities to meet with Telluride leaders and locals. According to the emergency response guidelines, the authorities did not have to do that. The sudden action by the EPA could have been surprising to mountaineers accustomed to the long and slow federal process on public lands, said agency spokesman Chris Wardell.

Wardell said the Tailings of the San Miguel River at the western end of Telluride are “an imminent and substantial threat to human health and the environment.”

Under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (known as CERCLA or Superfund) EPA needs to act swiftly Once this type of threat has been identified.

“This is a short-term pain for a very long-term benefit,” says Wardell.

Trucks filled with lead and arsenic-contaminated miltails will soon be added to the busy Telluride downtown traffic mix. Residents are worried about the impact on tourism and the health of the people living in the town. .. (William Woody, special to Colorado Sun)

According to Wardell, the agency will meet with Telluride residents in August to provide up-to-date information on progress, and the agency “coordinates work as needed to ensure it is completed.”

There are many homes in Telluride’s East End district.On those houses, Newmont Mining spent Over 25 years to repair Tailings From the Idalado mine, which was closed in 1978. This work includes planting vegetation to prevent wind and water erosion, and inducing rainfall and snow spills around polluted mountains.

These homes were not there when the Newmont and Colorado environmental authorities settled the proceedings and agreed on a cleanup plan in the early 1990s. Currently, there are 30 children under the age of 12 in the East End area.

“This process seems to be very urgent,” said longtime local Matt Skinner, who lives in the East End with a young family. Instead of running a truck with taillings by a town or house every 10 minutes, 8 hours a day for the next 3-4 months, we want you to take a step back and look for other ways. I think. “

The EPA removal process includes covering luggage, driving the town at speeds of 7 mph or less, emptying the tailing of the depot, and then washing the truck before passing through the town. EPA officials said they would try to move the truck during off-peak hours.

Watkinson initially said he supported plans to remove the Tailings. He changed his mind after hearing the EPA explain the process in July.

“The presentation was terrible. I was on their side, but the more they talked, the more concerned the project as a whole,” said Watkinson, who grew up in Telluride. “That is, their achievements aren’t great, right? What do you see? What happened to Durango’s Animas.. My real concern is that they do this safely. I don’t know if they can. “

Locals went unnoticed when the EPA removed about 3,000 cubic yards of toxic tailing from the federal parcel in November. Last fall, the town of Tellride spent $ 3.3 million blocking about 23 acres of mining waste on the land of the valley floor and rerouting the San Miguel River around the Tailings. Most of the valley bottom taillings were deposited by rivers during floods decades ago when Telluride was a lonely mine outpost.

District Ranger Eno said locals were amazed at the speed of the EPA removal project.

“This is a much tighter schedule than most public agencies,” she said.

Town councilman Tom Watkinson from Tellride points to a gravel rift in a huge soil mine Tailings mountain left over from the operation of the Idarad mine south of Tellride on July 28, 2021. ..

The Forest Department has looked elsewhere to deposit toxic taillings. Eno said there was little public desire to create a new repository on public land that Newmont had to protect. Newmont wanted these Tailings in a repository with full-time staff to monitor and maintain the mine waste reservoir, Eno said. The difficulty is that there is only one road through the valley to access the repository, passing through the middle of downtown Telluride.

“I understand why people are upset,” Eno said. “This is the land of the Forest Department. This is the last plot where the tailing needs to be removed. Once completed, the restoration of the valley floor will be completed for all purposes and purposes. It was built in the mine. It’s very exciting for the town. “

Telluride locals are wondering why EPA wants to bring Tailings to town last year’s busy summers and fall. The EPA was waiting to move the Tailings until November. According to Wardell, the cleanup is much larger, the start date has been postponed “as much as possible” and the agency is expected to complete by winter.

Wardell said the authorities’ field coordinators have worked on many similar removals, and the plan is “the safest, most efficient and most effective way to complete removal activities before winter. It represents. ”

Skinner, a resident of the East End, wondered about alternatives for dumping the Tailings investigated by the Forest Department. Why were other locations excluded?

“We appreciate the fact that they have to get rid of the tailing,” Skinner said. “The EPA seems to be very focused on the bottom of the valley, but we want them to see this end of the valley, this end of the removal process, and the affected towns and neighborhoods.”

Colorado Sun does not have paywalls. This means readers don’t have to pay to access articles. We believe that affected people need to identify important information, such as public health crises, investigative journalism, and parliamentary accountability.

This report Depends For support from readers like you. Invest in an informed community for just $ 5 a month.

EPA plan to truck toxic mine waste through Telluride isn’t sitting well with locals Source link EPA plan to truck toxic mine waste through Telluride isn’t sitting well with locals

Back to top button