County cracks down

For the better part of a year now, the owners of Black Mountain Disposal near De Beque have wrangled with Mesa County and state officials over pollution at the site that dates back to 2001.

Tuesday night, the Mesa County commissioners unanimously decided that, in the words of Commissioner Janet Rowland, “Enough is enough.”

The commissioners suspended county permits until Black Mountain complies with a number of conditions. The permits allow the disposal facility to accept liquid waste from oil and gas drilling.

Good for the commissioners. It is high time Black Mountain and its representatives stop talking about how environmentally friendly they are and prove that claim by complying with the county requirements.

Those conditions include testing water wells on neighboring property to determine how far the contamination has spread, disclosing exactly what has leaked from the site and the extent of the contamination and developing an acceptable plan for cleaning up the pollution.

The county gave Black Mountain 30 days to meet those conditions. Then the county will take another 30 days to review the materials, particularly the proposed cleanup plan. If it is not deemed acceptable, the county could permanently revoke the permits.

It’s not just the county that has had enough with Black Mountain’s stalling. Earlier this month, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment went to court to force the company to be more responsive to its requests for information about the spill and to develop a cleanup plan.

We have little doubt that the owners of Black Mountain are indeed hard-working business owners, as one of their supporters told the commissioners Tuesday evening. But that doesn’t make them immune from state or county rules or the need to be good environmental stewards.

Until they have complied with the county demands, and the county determines Black Mountain has both the means and desire to clean up the contamination, its permits to operate should not be restored.


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