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Durango supports Silverton Superfund designation

Silverton officials expected to make decision in January
Wastewater flowing in 2013 from the Red and Bonita Mine north of Silverton leaves a wake of lifelessness in its path. A Superfund designation could address wastewater problems from this mine and other mines around Silverton – including the Gold King Mine, which suffered a blowout in August 2015.

The Durango City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday supporting a Superfund designation for mines above Silverton.

“I think everyone in Durango and Animas River watershed has been concerned,”said Councilor Dick White, referring to ongoing water quality issues.

A public call for action to reduce pollution in the Animas River heightened after the Environmental Protection Agency accidently released 3 million gallons of metal-laden mine sludge on Aug. 5 , 2015, from the Gold King Mine.

The Silverton Town Council and San Juan County commissioners are also expected to approve a formal request for Superfund designation before the end of January.

The La Plata County commissioners are expected to approve a resolution of support next week as well, said City Manager Ron LeBlanc.

“This is a great opportunity for us to come together with that unified voice,” said Councilor Christina Rinderle.

The council pledged to help advocate for Superfund listing for the mines in the resolution.

A request for Superfund designation from Silverton Town Council and San Juan County commissioners would be sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office.

In November, a representative from the governor’s office said Hickenlooper would support a designation.

States are responsible for funding 10 percent of the construction of a Superfund remediation project, EPA officials told the county in September.

If ongoing water treatment is necessary, Colorado could be responsible for covering those costs, unless a responsible party, such as a company, is found.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

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