Posted on March 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Abandoned mine cleanups can help clean up polluted streams, a new USGS study in Montana finds.
Water quality improving in Upper Clark Fork Basin
FRISCO — There are hopeful signs that the ongoing cleanup of abandoned mines around the West will pay off.
The U.S. Geological Survey, reported decreased levels of toxic heavy metals in the streams of Montana’s Upper Clark Fork Basin that have been targeted by remediation efforts. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: abandoned mines, Environment, rivers, The West, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 11, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Weekly news roundup by Summit Voice editor Bob Berwyn.
Public lands, climate, environment …
FRISCO — I had a chance to work on a half-dozen interesting stories the past 10 days as a freelancer for the MSN internet news channel, including a short piece on a Colorado town that considered a drone-hunting ordinance, and some food news about new rules that will encourage healthier food at national parks across the country.
The surge in requests for concealed weapons permits in Colorado was also big news across the country early in the month, while the states along the Lower Colorado River may be preparing for reduced water deliveries.
In environmental news, U.S. Geological Survey scientists explained how the country could store 500 years of CO2 emissions in rock formations 3,000 feet down, while federal wildlife officials have been accused of stacking the deck against gray wolves.
Summit Voice public lands coverage:
Wilderness conservation is at issue in Colorado, where several lawmakers have introduced measures to create new wilderness areas repeatedly in the last few years. But that effort has been bottled up behind a partisan divide in Congress. Will there be some movement this session? More than 1 million acres are at stake. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, forests | Tagged: abandoned mines, Colorado news, Environment, Summit County Voice | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Bipartisan push could speed remediation projects
The abandoned Pennsylvania Mine is the source of heavy metal pollution in Peru Creek and the Snake River. bberwynphoto.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A few months after the EPA unveiled new regulatory guidance for abandoned mine remediation, a bipartisan pair of Colorado lawmakers launched a new push to speed cleanups.
The new law proposed by Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton would give Good Samaritan groups additional binding legal safeguards they need to remediate the sites and clean up tainted streams. There are more than 7,000 abandoned hard rock mine sites located in Colorado and thousands more throughout the West.
“Runoff from abandoned mines throughout Colorado and the West threaten our water quality, wildlife and local economies. This common-sense, bipartisan legislation will further unleash so-called Good Samaritan groups and allow them to help address this problem,” Udall said. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment | Tagged: abandoned mines, acid mine drainage, Clean Water Act, EPA, Good Samaritan mine cleanups, Mark Udall, Scott Tipton | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
EPA removal action aims to reduce acid mine drainage at polluted site
The ruins of the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine.
USGS and EPA experts sample soils near the Pennsylvania Mine.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — After years of study, state and federal mine reclamation experts say they’re ready to try and reduce the amount of tainted water oozing out of the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, in Summit County, Colorado.
The old mining site high in the Peru Creek drainage above Keystone has been identified as a key source of toxic heavy metals that impair water quality for miles downstream. Concentrations of lead, cadmium, managanese and especially zinc exceed standards set to protect aquatic life in the stream.
The mine operated between 1879 and 1908, and intermittently through the 1940s, producing gold, silver, lead, copper and zinc. As water and oxygen interact with the highly mineralized rocks, so-called acid mine drainage forms, loading the stream with dissolved heavy metals. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, water quality | Tagged: abandoned mines, Colorado, Environment, EPA, Keystone Resort, Pennsylvania Mine, Snake River, water pollution | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Agencies ready to tackle acid mine drainage at abandoned Pennsylvania Mine
USGS and EPA scientists take earth and water samples below the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine in Summit County, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.
Tainted water at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine.
By Bob Berwyn
*Extensive Summit Voice coverage of the Pennsylvania Mine is online here.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nearly a century after miners finished digging millions of dollars worth of silver, lead and zinc out of the Pennsylvania Mine, heavy machinery will once again rumble through the high alpine Peru Creek Valley.
But instead of burrowing deep into the ground to find precious metals, the workers this time will be trying to clean up the big mess left behind when the mine was abandoned. For decades, water coursing through the mine shafts has been dissolving minerals, resulting in acid mine drainage that pollutes Peru Creek and the Snake River. Concentrations of some metals, especially zinc, are high enough to kill trout.
After years of studying the mine, experts with federal and state agencies now say they are ready to try and tackle the pollution. They will provide details on the cleanup plan at the May 29 meeting of the Snake River Watershed Task Force. The public meeting is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Keystone Center, 1628 St. John Road, Keystone. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, Summit County Colorado, water | Tagged: abandoned mines, acid mine drainage, Colorado, Environment, EPA, Pennsylvania Mine, water pollution | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Pollution from an abandoned mine turned the Blue River bright orange in April 2006. Bob Berwyn photo.
Public event planned Jan. 18 near Breckenridge
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Around the West, there are thousands of abandoned mines polluting streams and killing fish, and many volunteer cleanup efforts have been stymied by strict Clean Water Act liability provisions.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) for years has been working with the EPA to try and make it easier for Good Samaritan groups to tackle remediation projects without taking on responsibility for future pollution. Those efforts showed results in December, when the EPA issued new guidance specifying that Good Samaritans are generally not responsible for obtaining a Clean Water Act permit during or after a successful cleanup conducted according to a Good Samaritan agreement with EPA. Read the memo here.
Udall will be in Summit County Friday (Jan. 18) along with EPA Regional Administrator Jim Martin to discuss the new policy and the public is invited to attend the event, set for 11 a.m. at the Iron Springs Mill off Boreas Pass Road. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: abandoned mines, acid mine drainage, Colorado, Environment, EPA, good samaritan cleanups, Mark Udall, water pollution, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
The abandoned Pennsylvannia Mine in Summit County, Colorado, is a significant source of pollution. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Colorado lawmaker tries to rally support on Senate floor; asks EPA for relief
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Sen. Mark Udall last week renewed his efforts to find ways to enable Good Samaritans to clean up some of the many abandoned mine sites scattered around Colorado and the West.
In addition to trying to rally political support with a speech on the Senate floor, Udall sent a letter to the EPA asking for a change in policy that would give Good Samaritans some legal certainty when it comes to the liability for cleanup efforts. Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Barbara Boxer of California also signed the letter.
Certain legal hooks in the Clean Water Act make it challenging for volunteers, so Udall is looking for ways that would enable Good Samaritans to clean up those contaminated sites without assuming full legal liability for contamination they did not create. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, Summit County news, water | Tagged: abandoned mines, acid mine drainage, Clean Water Act, Colorado, Good Samaritan mine cleanups, Mark Udall | 2 Comments »
Posted on August 11, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Drilling, along with laser and sonar probes, planned at Pennsylvania Mine this summer
Toxic metals oozing from the abandoned Pennsylvania mine pollute the waters of Peru Creek and the Snake River far downstream. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Research at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, high in the Peru Creek drainage, will go deeper than ever before this year, as state experts prepare to drill underground to try and get a better handle on how water moves through the tunnels of the mine and the fissures of the surrounding mountain.
The work at the mine is expected to cost between $450,000 and $800,000, according to a recent update from the Snake River Watershed Task Force. Specific projects include laser and sonar surveys in the mine workings, as well as visual inspections with a borehole camera. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, public lands, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, water | Tagged: abandoned mines, Environment, Pennsylvania Mine, Peru Creek, Snake River Colorado, Summit County News, water quality | 1 Comment »