February 19, 2016--Silverton, EPA to consider 46 mining sites in potential Superfund cleanup (Denver Post)

ilverton leaders have agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency to consider 46 abandoned mines and mine-production sites that dot its surroundings for a potential Superfund cleanup, documents released Friday show. The locations are in three basins that drain into the Animas River and have long been blamed for contaminating the waterway with heavy metal runoff. The pollution has also been linked to damaging aquatic life. All of the locations identified for a federal cleanup are outside Silverton's town limits. Two study sites have also been identified for EPA evaluation. "This would be one of the three biggest (mine Superfund) sites, in terms of area and scope, in the state of Colorado," Bill Murray, who directs the EPA's Superfund program in Colorado, told The Denver Post on Friday. The document release comes ahead of a Monday meeting of Silverton and San Juan County's elected leaders who are set to decide on whether to seek a Superfund designation. One of the documents showed the millions of private, state and federal dollars that have been spent in the last 25 years to remediate mine drainage in Silverton's surroundings. For two decades, Silverton rebuffed federal Superfund dollars, fearing negative economic impacts, bureaucratic red tape and stigma. But now the town is finalizing a plan to embrace the controversial cleanup effort in the wake of the 3 million-gallon, EPA-caused Gold King Mine spill in August. The town council and county commissioners need to send a letter seeking Superfund classification to Gov. John Hickenlooper by Feb. 23 in order to be considered for the earliest possible designation. To view the full article visit the Denver Post.