February 13, 2016--EPA pens Silverton a letter proposing Superfund and full of assurances (Denver Post)

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to Silverton's leaders formally proposing a Superfund cleanup of the area's abandoned mines and full of promises about the controversial remedy. The memo comes as the town is in the final stages of deciding whether to embrace the Superfund program and seeks assurances about what the federal dollars would mean. The letter, from the top EPA official overseeing Superfund in Colorado, quells fears about the name of a national priority site and says the remediation would include the development or study of new mine cleanup technologies. "The EPA is committed to early and meaningful community participation during the entire Superfund process," wrote EPA official Bill Murray. The letter, made public Friday, says the town and San Juan County have agreed to call the project area the "Bonita Peak Mining District Site." Silverton's leaders worried that naming the cleanup after their community would scare away visitors and destroy their tourism-based economy. "We received the letter shortly before it was made public," said Mark Eddy, spokesman for Silverton and San Juan County. "We have made good progress in our discussions with the EPA regarding a Superfund listing. We are reviewing the letter to determine the full impact of the commitments the EPA has made." The EPA also promises to actively include local input in the remediation and be open to shrinking the site's boundaries depending on the amount of contaminants found. For two decades, Silverton rebuffed Superfund dollars, fearing negative economic impacts, bureaucratic red tape and stigma. But the town did an about-face after immense pressure in the wake of the 3 million-gallon, EPA-caused Gold King Mine spill in August. To view the full article visit the Denver Post.