Gridlock snags effort to help mine cleanup groups

DENVER — Efforts to change federal law to protect groups willing to cleanup polluting mines from legal liability have hit a snag, according to the Obama administration.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said last week that legislative gridlock is keeping President Barrack Obama from his pledge to change the law and that more must be done to deal with tens of thousands of leaking abandoned mines nationwide, the Denver Post reported Monday.

Salazar said there is also a lack of money in dealing with the mines but that the administration remains committed to help.

Federal authorities estimate about 500,000 abandoned mines across the West, with at least 7,300 in Colorado. About 40 percent of the headwaters of Western rivers are tainted with toxic discharge from the old mines, including waste containing arsenic, cadmium, copper and zinc, according to the newspaper.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources records show 450 abandoned mines are known to be leaking measurable toxins into watersheds. State environmental officials have listed 32 sites along the Animas River in critical condition.


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