Black Mountain sale may be best solution

The long-running saga of the Black Mountain Disposal wastewater facility near DeBeque could take a turn for the better if the facility is sold to a new owner this July.

We hope that occurs, and that the buyers demonstrate a real willingness to tackle environmental problems at the commercial facility used to dispose of waste liquids from oil and gas drilling. A representative for the prospective buyers appeared to understand the problems during a hearing with the Mesa County commissioners Tuesday, and said the buyers are already examining potential methods of dealing with those problems.

But the possibility of a sale is far from certain. Jeffrey Been, who said he has a contract prepared for the sale of Black Mountain Disposal, also noted, “The whole thing could fall through if the conditions are not met.”

Black Mountain’s conditional-use permit was suspended by Mesa County last year, and the company faces legal action from the state of Colorado. Both are due to a spill that occurred on the site in 2001 and allowed wastewater to leach into surrounding soils.

Exactly what sort of chemicals were involved and how far the chemical plume spread is still unclear. To date, Black Mountain owner Elaine Wells has failed to provide information requested by the county about those issues. She has not produced a plan that would allow officials to determine the extent of the plume, nor said how her company would clean it up and monitor in the future.

Because of that, Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis said the county was prepared to permanently revoke the permits for the facility, and the county may still have to resort to that action.

However, with the announcement of a potential buyer, the county agreed to allow up to 90 more days for Black Mountain to produce the information the county has requested.

That’s a reasonable option. If Been’s potential buyers are as interested in taking over the facility and undertaking the necessary cleanup as he has indicated, then the sale of the facility would be in the best interest of everyone involved, including Mesa County’s taxpayers.


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