Local cleanup control

 

Jonathan Thompson did a particularly comprehensive job of covering issues in Silverton (“The Gold King Reckoning,” HCN, 5/2/16). There is probably an additional point relative to Superfund opposition. Mining communities throughout Colorado witnessed the conflicts between local governments and the Environmental Protection Agency at Leadville’s Superfund site over several decades. As a consequence, many communities strongly prefer local control of cleanup efforts over Superfund designation. Groups such as the Animas River and Willow Creek (at Creede) associations were created, and are to be lauded for their hard work and collaborative efforts to improve water quality by applying scientific principles and research to the problems.

The Colorado Geological Survey, in addition to documenting acid-mine drainage in hundreds of locations, also documented large areas of natural, acid-rock drainage in a number of places in Colorado, including Silverton. Its publication, Natural Acid Rock Drainage Associated with Hydrothermally Altered Terrane in Colorado, is available at http://coloradogeologicalsurvey.org/water/acid-water-natural/.  Competent cleanup of acid mine drainage cannot be accomplished without knowledge of the acid drainage problems that nature is also creating in the area.  Thus far, the EPA’s regulations do not take into account this natural phenomenon.