Senators ask help for mine cleanups
DENVER — U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to clarify the EPA’s ability to help unaffiliated groups that want to clean up abandoned hardrock mines.
The third-party groups have no connection to or responsibility for the mining activities or resulting pollution but want to clean up these sites to mitigate damage to watersheds and public health, but they’re worried about legal liability.
The Government Accountability Office estimates that there are about 160,000 abandoned hardrock mines in the twelve western states and South Dakota, including 7,300 in Colorado.
The groups say many of these sites leach heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury that destroy water supplies and wildlife habitats.