Colorado governor endorses Superfund cleanup

Posted at 3:22 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 19:43:52-05

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has formally endorsed a Superfund cleanup for 48 old mining sites, including one that sent wastewater into rivers in three states last summer.

Hickenlooper made the announcement Monday and sent his approval Environmental Protection Agency.

"After working closely with local communities, we've identified a Superfund designation as the most comprehensive and sensible means at our disposal to treat mine discharge in the Bonita Peak Mining District,” said Hickenlooper. “We'll continue to push for meaningful state and local involvement, utilization of the best available technologies and expertise, and ways to mitigate any negative impacts to the local economy.”

The EPA would oversee the project but won't proceed without support from the governor and local officials. San Juan County and the town of Silverton endorsed the cleanup last week.

If the EPA designates the area a Superfund site, cleanup work could still be months or years away after studies and planning.

The EPA inadvertently triggered the release of 3 million gallons of wastewater from the inactive Gold King Mine on Aug. 5 during preliminary cleanup work. Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were polluted.