December 24, 2015--Public bill for Gold King spill looms, EPA seeks liable owners (Denver Post)

Gold King owner Todd Hennis says he's not responsible for the 3 million-gallon deluge from his mine Aug. 5 and is demanding the EPA back off — in return for continued access to the mine. And if Environmental Protection Agency crews want to keep using his 56-acre property nearby at Gladstone to treat toxic Gold King drainage, Hennis said, the feds should pay rent. "There's simply no reason for them to name me as a 'Potentially Responsible Party,' because we've never done anything on that land," said Hennis, president of San Juan Corp., which owns the Gold King Mine. "I'm just saying: Acknowledge that fact. The EPA is the one who caused this blowout. After creating these problems, it's the least they can do." But EPA officials aren't ruling out efforts to tap Hennis, 56, a Harvard economics graduate from metro Denver with dreams of a mining comeback, and other owners of land in the mountains above Silverton. An EPA hunt for potentially responsible parties (PRPs) is required after environmental disasters where damage is severe. EPA and state authorities have documented tens of thousands of inactive mines around Colorado and the West that leak toxic, metals-laced waste into headwaters of the nation's rivers, with overall cleanup costs estimated as high as $70 billion. Mine owners deemed liable — if also found to be financially "viable" — can be forced to pay portions of cleanup costs so taxpayers alone aren't stuck with the bills. However, in this case, the EPA already has taken responsibility. An EPA crew digging into the mine set off the deluge. Funding for cleanup has emerged as a key issue as Silverton and San Juan County leaders explore, in closed talks with the EPA and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, whether to seek a possible disaster designation for a federal Superfund cleanup. To view the full article visit the Denver Post.