The EPA told Colorado to tighten its regulations for an open-pit gold mine near Victor or risk having the EPA take over the process.
Three years ago, the state turned
to the federal agency to clean up the disastrous Summitville mining
site in Colorado's San Juan Mountains when the owners declared
bankruptcy and left behind a mess of cyanide and other wastes (HCN,
1/25/93). The clean-up has already cost over $100 million.
"We do not want a repeat," the EPA's Kerrigan
Clough told the Rocky Mountain News.
agency's warning about the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining
Company came as a response to a local group. Citizens for Victor
(HCN, 5/18/92) asked the EPA to intervene because the state's draft
permit allowed a highly acidic discharge of 2.8 from the mine. The
Clean Water Act requires a pH of at least 6.
company acknowledges that waters flowing off the site are acidic,
but maintains that it is not responsible because the pollution is
natural or results from previous mining operations. Roger Flynn, an
attorney for the citizens' group, says the new mine's drainage
system collects all the runoff from the site, making it impossible
to determine the pollution's source. But, he says, the company
should clean up the water no matter what the
"If you buy an old mine site because you
think you can extract millions in gold," says Flynn, "then you
should be responsible for cleaning up the runoff."