Bonita Peak Mining District Among Superfund Sites Targeted for Intense and Immediate Attention

EPA announces the elevation of 21 sites nationwide  

Bonita Peak Mining District Among Superfund Sites Targeted for Intense and Immediate Attention

DENVER (Dec. 8, 2017) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA released the list of Superfund sites that Administrator Pruitt has targeted for immediate and intense attention. The 21 sites on the list – from across the United States – are in direct response to the Superfund Task Force Recommendations, issued this summer, calling for this list.

“By elevating these sites we are sending a message that EPA is, in fact, restoring its Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s mission,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.  “Getting toxic land sites cleaned up and revitalized is of the utmost importance to the communities across the country that are affected by these sites. I have charged the Superfund Task Force staff to immediately and intently develop plans for each of these sites to ensure they are thoughtfully addressed with urgency. By getting these sites cleaned up, EPA will continue to focus on ways we can directly improve public health and the environment for people across America.”

In Colorado, the Bonita Peak Mining District (BPMD) site is on the Administrator’s Superfund list for emphasis. EPA is currently working with the State of Colorado as well as its federal partners, the United States. Moreover, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management will develop a Five-Year Plan. It will outline cleanup activities and remediation objectives for the site. EPA is working closely with the local government and community stakeholders to ensure the interests of the community are met.

“We are heavily invested in achieving tangible water quality improvements in the Upper Animas watershed,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento. “EPA has a unique responsibility at this site and by placing it on this list we are recognizing that responsibility and ensuring the community that it is going to be a priority.”

Approach

While long-term planning continues, EPA uses an adaptive management approach at the site. Additionally, it supports early actions to improve water quality and stabilize mine features. Not to mention it will address priority areas that pose a risk to human health.  Through his hands-on engagement at the BPMD site, Administrator Pruitt will advance progress on site cleanup without expending additional taxpayer dollars.

“Today’s announcement to include the Bonita Peak Mining District site to the EPA’s Superfund “Emphasis List” is an important step forward,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “We visited the site with EPA Administrator Pruitt in August and are encouraged by his follow through with resources and support to the agency’s cleanup efforts. This is in addition to other national priority list sites like the Colorado Smelter site in Pueblo, where important EPA cleanup actions also are underway. We look forward to working closely with the EPA, our communities and our Congressional delegation to remediate these sites.”

The Bonita Peak Mining District (BPMD) became a Superfund site on Sept. 9, 2016, when we added it to the National Priorities List. The site consists of historic and ongoing releases from mining operations in three drainages:  Mineral Creek, Cement Creek, and Upper Animas, which converge into the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado. The site includes 35 mines, seven tunnels, four tailings impoundments, and two study areas where we need additional information to evaluate environmental concerns.

Developing the List

In developing this initial list, EPA considered sites that could benefit from Administrator Pruitt’s direct engagement and have identifiable actions to protect human health and the environment. These are sites requiring timely resolution of specific issues to expedite cleanup and redevelopment efforts. The goal of this list is to spur action at sites where opportunities exist to act quickly and comprehensively. The Administrator will receive regular updates on each of these sites.

The list is dynamic. Sites will move on and off the list as appropriate.  At times, there may be more or fewer sites based on where the Administrator’s attention and focus are most needed.  There is no commitment of additional funding associated with a site’s inclusion on the list.

EPA remains dedicated to addressing risks at all Superfund sites, not just those on the list. The Task Force Recommendations are aimed at expediting cleanup at all Superfund sites, and Administrator Pruitt has set the expectation that there will be a renewed focus on accelerating work and progress at all Superfund sites across the country.

The Task Force, whose work is ongoing, has five overarching goals:

  • Expediting cleanup and remediation;
  • Reinvigorating cleanup and reuse efforts by potentially responsible parties;
  • Encouraging private investment to facilitate cleanup and reuse;
  • Promoting redevelopment and community revitalization; and
  • Engaging with partners and stakeholders.

Conclusively, the Task Force will provide the public with regular updates as it makes progress on the Administrator’s Emphasis list.

The list of sites can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-sites-targeted-immediate-intense-action

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