Summitville Mine in southwestern Colorado gets $1M in Superfund grant money

DENVER – An old mining site in southwest Colorado has received $1 million in Superfund grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency to continue water treatment at the site.

The Summitville Mine, located in Rio Grande County, has been under the purview of the EPA and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment since 1992.

Mining at the site began with gold and silver mining around 1870. It continued for more than 100 years, when Summitville Consolidated Mining Corp., Inc. started large-scale open-pit mining operations using cyanide to retrieve the metals from the rock.

A leak in the pad used to leach out the precious metals was discovered in 1986. The company abandoned the site shortly thereafter and filed for bankruptcy at the end of 1992, when the EPA took the site over for cleanup operations.

Over the next two decades, the EPA and state worked extensively to contain the leak and start rehabilitating nearby land and waterways, including the Alamosa River and Wightman Fork.

Construction on a hydroelectric power system at the site got underway in 2008, and $17 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds received in 2009 helped the completion of the water treatment plant at the site.

The $1 million in new Superfund grant money will go toward continuing water treatment at the site.

The site is one of 24 EPA Superfund sites in Colorado.

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