September 8, 2016--Colorado town on verge of big changes amid Superfund cleanup (ABC News)

A historic Colorado mountain town is on the threshold of a transformation after the federal government announced it will embark on an ambitious campaign to stanch the flow of acidic wastewater cascading from abandoned mines. The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday designated an area north of Silverton as a Superfund site, clearing the way for a multimillion-dollar cleanup that could last years. "I think we're all in for one heck of an adventure," said Mark Esper, editor of the Silverton Standard newspaper. Tainted wastewater has been flowing from idle mines in the San Juan Mountains for years, but some of Silverton's 600-plus residents resisted a Superfund designation, worried it would discourage tourists and skiers. Silverton is best known for the steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Silverton Mountain ski area. But when the EPA accidentally triggered a 3-million-gallon wastewater spill from the Gold King Mine in August 2015, contaminating rivers in three states, public opinion shifted. Silverton and surrounding San Juan County got behind the Superfund listing.

"It has been a stunning turnaround," Esper said. He said he wasn't sure of all the reasons for the reversal, but others have said residents recognized that a long-term solution was urgent and only the federal government could afford it. "People I thought never would be supporting Superfund totally reversed," he said. Silverton Town Administrator Bill Gardner said he was "tremendously happy" with the Superfund listing. "What a great benchmark for this community and for our downstream partners," he said. He praised the EPA for listening to the town's concerns. "I think the EPA deserves a lot of credit," he said. "I think they've worked very hard with the voice of the community." The agency calls the project the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund Site. It includes 47 other sites besides the Gold King, most of them mining-related. To view the full article visit the ABC News.