Peru Creek: EPA has been testing treatment and settlement of the acid mine drainage during August

August 25, 2013

irrigation.jpg

From the Summit Daily News (Breeana Laughlin):

Throughout August, [Martin McComb], the Environmental Protection Agency’s on-scene coordinator, and his team have been diverting the main flow of heavy-metal-laden water coming from the mine away from the poisonous tailings piles. Environmental protection workers also set up a treatment system that raises the PH of the water in an effort to force some of the metals to drop out of it into a settlement pond before heading downstream. “It’s all about reducing the amount of pollution that flows into the creek,” McComb said. “We are dealing comprehensively with what’s on top of the ground as well as what’s below the ground.”[...]

McComb’s EPA team is embarking on phase one of a six-phase cleanup project at the site. In addition to water treatment efforts, the group has spent the past month improving road conditions to allow dump trucks and other heavy machinery access to the site. The cleanup is expected to take three years and will involve numerous agencies, including the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, Summit County, the U.S. Forest Service, the Blue River and Snake River watershed groups and Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. “It’s nice to see there are so many people involved in this project and in this watershed. I think it’s because it’s such a beautiful area, and near where so many people are living,” McComb said. “I hope we can make an impact — and think we already have.”

Cleanup efforts taken under the project plan will be phased over the next several years and will address threats from acidic discharge that is draining from the mine and tailings along with other mine waste found on the surface.

The bulk of the underground mine work will be conducted under the supervision of the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety. This summer, contractors under the supervision of senior project manager Jeff Graves are digging out a collapsed portion of earth that flooded the culvert in the mine’s portal F, and are working to gain easier access into the underground portions of the mine. “They are really knowledgeable about underground work and have a lot of experience,” McComb said. “For us, it’s a good way to partner with people who are specialized and really know what they’re doing.”

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.


Restoration: Pennsylvania Mine cleanup to start in earnest beginning this month

June 2, 2013

pennsylvaniamineperucreekcotu.jpg

From the Summit Daily News (Breeana Laughlin):

Pennsylvania Mine bleeds heavy metals, or acid mine drainage, into Peru Creek and the Snake River. The Snake flows into Dillon Reservoir — a major water source for the Front Range.

The mine operated from 1879 through the early 1900s. Like many mines in the area, it sits in a pristine alpine valley. Today the Peru Creek valley, eight miles to the east of Keystone, serves as a year-round destination for recreation.

The mine is one of the largest contributors of human-caused heavy metal in the Snake River Watershed. Contaminants include aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc. Exposure to these metals can cause irreversible and lifelong health problems in humans and wildlife.

This summer, the EPA will prep infrastructure to allow heavy equipment into the mine site in hopes of cutting off pollution sources. Meanwhile, the Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety will continue underground investigations to pinpoint where the toxic metals are originating and decipher which techniques should be used to best clean up the site…

EPA on-scene coordinator Paul Peronard expects the mine cleanup project to take place over three years, and cost about $3 million. Progress will be made in “finite, bite-size chunks,” he said…

Workers drilled holes into the ground and used a borehole camera to inspect the inside of the mine. The state-of-the-art technology was combined with maps from the 1920s to create a blueprint of the mine site…

Stakeholders then came up with a portal rehabilitation project. They dug and cut their way into the mine and installed very large culverts into two mine portals. The work required climbing through “hobbit holes” and dealing with 2 feet of muck, but it allowed researchers to get data about the amount of flow and level of contaminants coming through the F and C portals of the mine — where the bulk of the cleanup work will be done. The water found was “pretty nasty stuff.” The substance was a rusty orange color ­— very similar to the hue of the excavators on site. Geologists and engineers used dye to track water flows, created settlement ponds and revegetated disturbed areas…

In June, workers will prepare the mine site and stabilize the portals so more detailed underground investigations can be made. Geological engineer Graves’ plan is to install inner and outer bulkheads at the mine. The problem workers have with sealing waterways is a lack of rock and other landmass on top of the mine to contain underground water pressure, he said…

In addition to installing bulkheads in 2014 and 2015, stakeholders plan to cap waste and tailing piles in place with topsoil and vegetation to prevent erosion and contaminants from leaching. Any significant surface water pathways discovered during the underground investigations will also be sealed.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Nearly a century after miners finished digging millions of dollars worth of silver, lead and zinc out of the Pennsylvania Mine, heavy machinery will once again rumble through the high alpine Peru Creek Valley. But instead of burrowing deep into the ground to find precious metals, the workers this time will be trying to clean up the big mess left behind when the mine was abandoned. For decades, water coursing through the mine shafts has been dissolving minerals, resulting in acid mine drainage that pollutes Peru Creek and the Snake River. Concentrations of some metals, especially zinc, are high enough to kill trout…

The cleanup is a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Summit County. For more information about the project please visit: http://www.snakerivertaskforce.org.

More Snake River Watershed coverage here and here.


Snake River: USGS — Warmer Temperatures Likely Driving Increase of Metal Concentrations in Rocky Mountain Watershed

September 13, 2012

pennsylvaniamineperucreekcotu.jpg

Here’s the release the United States Geological Survey (Heidi Koontz/Jim Scott):

Warmer air temperatures since the 1980s may explain significant increases in zinc and other metal concentrations of ecological concern in a Rocky Mountain watershed, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, led by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo., may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost, and accelerating mineral weathering rates, all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed. Researchers observed a fourfold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the month of September.

“This study provides another fascinating, and troubling, example of a cascading impact from climate warming as the rate of temperature-dependent chemical reactions accelerate in the environment, leaching metals into streams,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “The same concentration of metals in the mountains that drew prospectors to the Rockies more than a century ago are now the source of toxic trace elements that are harming the environment as the planet warms.”

Increases in metals were seen in other months as well, with lesser increases seen during the high-flow snowmelt period. During the study period, local mean annual and mean summer air temperatures increased at a rate of 0.2-1.2 degrees Celsius per decade.

Generally, high concentrations of dissolved metals in the upper Snake River watershed are the result of acid rock drainage, or ARD, formed by natural weathering of pyrite and other metal-rich sulfide minerals in the bedrock. Weathering of pyrite forms sulfuric acid through a series of chemical reactions, and mobilizes metals like zinc from minerals in the rock and carries these metals into streams.

Increased sulfate and calcium concentrations observed over the study period lend weight to the hypothesis that the increased zinc concentrations are due to acceleration of pyrite weathering. The potential for comparable increases in metals in similar Western watersheds is a concern because of impacts on water resources, fisheries and stream ecosystems. Trout populations in the lower Snake River, for example, appear to be limited by the metal concentrations in the water, said USGS scientist Andrew Todd, lead researcher on the project.

“Acid rock drainage is a significant water quality problem facing much of the Western United States,” Todd said. “It is now clear that we need to better understand the relationship between climate and ARD as we consider the management of these watersheds moving forward.”

In cases where ARD is linked directly with past and present mining activities it is called acid mine drainage, or AMD. Another Snake River tributary, Peru Creek, is largely devoid of life due to AMD generated from the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine and smaller mines upstream, and has become a target for potential remediation efforts.

The Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, in conjunction with other local, state and federal partners, is conducting underground exploration work at the mine to investigate the sources of heavy metals-laden water draining from the adit. The study conducted by Todd and colleagues has implications in such efforts because it suggests that establishing attainable clean-up objectives could be difficult if natural background metal concentrations are a “moving target.”

Collaborators include USGS, CU Boulder and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). The data analyzed for the study came from INSTAAR, the USGS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

From the Summit Daily News (Paige Blankenbuehler):

Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River west of the Continental Divide near Keystone may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost and accelerating mineral- weathering rates — all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed…

High concentrations of dissolved metals in the upper Snake River watershed are the result of acid rock drainage, according to the research. The drainage is a result from past and present mining activities.

More water pollution coverage here.


Peru Creek basin: Summer restoration work will include opening the Pennsylvania mine for a look-see

May 27, 2012

pennsylvaniamineperucreekcotu.jpg

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

One part of the planned work involves moving some of the waste rock from the mine away from running water, a technique that has proven successful in other remediation projects. A collaborative task force including local, state and federal stakeholders have been grappling with the pollution for years, as cost estimates for a cleanup have soared.

This summer, the various parties collaborating on the cleanup will also try to enter the old mine itself to try and figure how water moves through the shafts and tunnels. That may help the experts figure out if they can permanently block the water coming out of the mine with a bulkhead, according to Lane Wyatt, a water expert with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. “That’s the big thing, is opening up the Penn Mine … that’s kind of exciting, going in see what’s going on in there. That might help us develop some remedial options based on more than just guessing,” Wyatt said.
Other potential remediation options include a water treatment facility, or perhaps even trying to block or divert water before it gets into the mine.

“The Forest Service has been involved in looking for ways to clean up the Penn Mine for many years. This is a great step forward,” said acting Dillon District Ranger Peech Keller.

More Snake River watershed coverage here and here.


New Colorado Geological Survey study identifies geology as culprit for poor water quality in some headwaters streams

November 21, 2011

acidminedrainagepennsylvaniaminesummitcountycitizensvoice.jpg

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Frequently, acid rock drainage from natural sources and mine sites combine to cause severe downstream water quality problems. In these situations it is important to distinguish the natural, or background, water quality so that realistic clean- up goals for water quality can be set.

Peru Creek and the Snake River are a perfect example of this combination. The abandoned Pennsylvania Mine is thought to contribute a significant amount of acid mine drainage to water that is already tainted. As a result, the water downstream is toxic to trout and other aquatic organisms. Various agencies and groups have been wrestling with cleanup scenarios for decades.

The research explains that rocks in parts of Colorado’s mineral belt were altered by intensely hot water circulating in the earth’s crust, often associated with volcanic activity during Colorado’s geologic past.
These hydrothermal alteration changed the composition of the rocks by dissolving some minerals and depositing others.

In the affected areas, the process deposited metal-sulfide minerals, commonly pyrite (fool’s gold), in the rocks. When these rocks are exposed at the surface, they interact with oxygen and the iron sulfide “rusts” to form iron oxide minerals, creating striking yellow, orange, and red colors — similar to the oxidation of metal in an old rusty car.

Acid rock drainage occurs when the sulfur that is displaced by the oxygen combines with water to form weak sulfuric acid. The acidic water then dissolves minerals from the bedrock, often adding significant amounts of dissolved metals to these headwater streams. Natural acid rock drainage has been active in Colorado for thousands, possibly millions of years.

More water pollution coverage here.


Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety officials are exploring the Pennsylvania Mine to try to determine how to lessen acid mine drainage from Peru Creek into the Snake River

July 26, 2011

perucreekbasin.jpg

From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjin):

The mine is among nearly 400 others in the area, but is the main target for stream improvements that don’t involve actually treating the water — cost and liability assumed under current law inhibits a third-party treatment system. “We see a noticeable spike (in zinc concentrations) when Peru Creek runs by the Pennsylvania Mine,” said Ryan Durham, remedial project manager with the Environmental Protection Agency…

Some experts contend that the hillsides above Peru Creek are rich with metals that leach naturally, but most officials on this particular project agree that while there may be natural metal deposits occurring to make the creek a consistently uninhabitable place for fish, it’s likely the mine is a big player in sending metals downstream and causing low pH in the water. Downstream, in the Snake River above the Dillon Reservoir, the water is diluted enough by clean stream inflows for fish to live and reproduce…

The proposed next step should allow further investigation of the amount of water that actually discharges from the mine (including groundwater sources), where and in what condition the water enters the mine, flow paths within the workings, and the accessibility of the mine’s innards. The end goal is finding a feasible control remedy. Proposed solutions currently include building a bulkhead to protect against surge events, sealing entry sources so clean surface water isn’t contaminated and, separating clean water paths from dirty water paths to consolidate the waste.

More water pollution coverage here.


Snake River: Rising levels of zinc may be due to climate change

December 22, 2010

A picture named perucreekbasin.jpg

From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjun):

Nearly 2,000 miles of waterways in Colorado are affected by acid rock drainage, said Diane McKnight, who co-authored the study. “Spring runoff is happening longer,” Shaw said, which means the water runs slowly into the ground instead of along its surface in one spring melt. It passes over mineralized rocks, leeching the minerals into the streamflow as it moves. Crouch said the earlier snowmelt also means drier streambeds in September and October, which could increase metal concentrations. It’s a smaller scale of what was observed during the 2002 drought, in which prolonged dry conditions allowed the harmful chemical reactions to occur in areas where water once was, and will be again.

More Snake River coverage here and here.


Snake River: Rising levels of zinc may be due to climate change

December 19, 2010

A picture named snakeriver.jpg

From Science Daily:

The study focused on the Snake River watershed just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo., where CU-Boulder researchers have observed a four-fold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the lowest water flow months, said Caitlin Crouch. Crouch, a master’s degree student who led the study, said the high levels of zinc affect stream ecology, including deleterious effects on microbes, algae, invertebrates and fish. The team speculated the increased zinc concentrations may be tied to changes in groundwater conditions and stream flow patterns caused by climate change and the associated snowmelt that has been peaking two to three weeks earlier than normal in recent years, largely because of warming air temperatures. The result is lowered stream flows and drier soils along the stream in September and October, which increases metal concentrations, said Crouch. “While most of the talk about climate change in western waterways is about decreasing water quantities, we are evaluating potential climate influences on water quality, which is a whole different ball game,” she said…

The zinc in the Snake River watershed is primarily a result of acid rock drainage, or ARD, which can come from abandoned mine sites along rivers or through the natural weathering of pyrite in the local rock, said Crouch. Sometimes enhanced by mining activity, weathering pyrite forms sulfuric acid through a series of chemical reactions, which dissolves metals like zinc and carries them into the groundwater. McKnight, also a fellow of CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, said there are nearly 2,000 miles of waterways in Colorado affected by ARD…

The elevated zinc in the Snake River comes from several ARD sources, said Crouch. Crouch’s study site — where an increasing trend in zinc concentrations is sustained by groundwater discharge — is above the Peru Creek tributary to the Snake River, where natural pyrite weathering is thought to be the main source of ARD. Peru Creek is largely devoid of life due to ARD from the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine and other smaller mines upstream and has been a target for potential remediation efforts.

McKnight said another factor involved in rising zinc levels in the Snake River watershed — which runs from the top of the Continental Divide to Dillon Reservoir — could be the result of the severe 2002 drought in Colorado. The drought significantly lowered waterways, allowing more pyrite to be weathered in dry soils of the watershed and in wetlands adjacent to the stream.

More Snake River watershed coverage here and here.


The Colorado River District is kicking off a grant program for water resources projects

December 1, 2010

A picture named coloradorivergjwik.jpg

From email from the Colorado River Water Conservation District (Martha Moore):

The Colorado River District is accepting grant applications for projects that protect, enhance or develop water resources within the 15-county area covered by the District. This includes all watersheds in north- and central- western Colorado, except the San Juan River basin.

Eligible projects must achieve one or more of the following:

- develop a new water supply

- improve an existing system

- improve instream water quality

- increase water use efficiency

- reduce sediment loading

- implement watershed management actions

- control tamarisk

- protect pre-1922 Colorado River Compact water rights

Past projects have included the construction of new water storage, the enlargement of existing water storage or diversion facilities, rehabilitation of non-functioning or restricted water resource structures and implementation of water efficiency measures and other watershed improvements. Such projects that utilize pre-1922 water rights will be given additional ranking priority over similar projects that do not. Each project will be ranked based upon its own merits in accordance with published ranking criteria.

Eligible applicants can receive up to a maximum of $150,000 ((or approximately 25% of the total project cost whichever is less, in the case of smaller projects this percentage may be slightly higher) for their project. The total grant pool for 2011 is $250,000. Application deadline is Jan. 31, 2011.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.


Summit County: Education in Action program

November 24, 2010

A picture named perucreekbasin.jpg

From the Summit Daily News (Drew Anderson):

The program aims to engage students in the process of dealing with a socio-environmental issue from varying points of view. In this instance, students learned about mining and water quality issues surrounding the Pennsylvania Mine and the Snake River Watershed…

After learning about the issue, students were accompanied by Keystone Science School educators to local bodies of water such as French Creek, Miner’s Creek and Tiger Dredge to take water samples. Students tested the samples for heavy metals or abnormal pH levels and compared their results to samples tested by Colorado Mountain College. Field work proved to be the students’ favorite part of the program. “Going out and testing the water was the best part,” said SMS student Elle Dice. “It was kind of cold, but it was fun.”[...]

After reviewing the results, students played the parts of stakeholders to the Pennsylvania Mine situation. Roles included county commissioners, biologists, environmental protection agency representatives and Montezuma residents, among others. In a mock town hall meeting, the students recommended a solution based on the perceived motivation of their stakeholder role. The students widely agreed that bioremediation — the use of natural filtration systems to absorb heavy metals — was the best solution to the problem. Next spring some of the students will return to the creeks from which the samples were taken to plant willow seeds and enact other forms of bioremediation to the affected water flows…

For more information about the Keystone Science School and the Education in Action program, visit www.keystone.org/cfe/kss or e-mail Miller at dmiller@keystone.org.

More education coverage here.


Saguache County: The EPA and Trout Unlimited reach agreement for cleanup on Kerber Creek

August 26, 2010

A picture named kerbercreek.jpg

From the Summit County Citizens Voice:

The cleanup agreement is for Kerber Creek, at the north end of the San Luis Valley, where Trout Unlimited and the EPA have struck a deal that will shield the conservation group from potential liability as it works to clean up mine tilings along a 17-mile stretch of the creek.

The agreement could serve as a model for similar projects in Summit County, especially in the Snake River Basin, where cleanup efforts have been stymied by strict Clean Water Act provisions that shift liability for any pollution releases after a cleanup to the entity that does the work. The local Blue River Watershed Group, for example, is planning several projects similar to the work being done in the San Luis Valley.

Since 2008, Trout Unlimited and its partners have spent more than $1.3 million on restoration efforts along Kerber Creek. Working with the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado’s Nonpoint Source Program, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and local landowners, the goal is to treat 60 acres of mine tailings using lime, limestone and compost, and to restore the stream for fish and wildlife habitat. “Thousands of miles of headwater streams in the West are either threatened or dead as a result of historic mining pollution, and without Clean Water Act liability protection, Good Samaritans’ hands are tied,” said Russell. “If they try to treat the draining water to remove metals and improve water quality, they become liable for that water for ever. That’s a risk no entity has yet been willing to take.”

More restoration coverage here.


Restoration: Should the Pennsylvania Mine in the Peru Creek Basin become a superfund site?

August 25, 2010

A picture named perucreekbasin.jpg

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Reclamation experts with the federal agency’s regional office say a Superfund designation could be the best way to get the money needed for a comprehensive cleanup, but some local officials aren’t sure they want the environmental stigma of a Superfund site in their backyard — or a massive industrial water treatment facility and a major service road in the Peru Creek backcountry, which has been the focus of long-term open space preservation efforts…

But focusing resources through the Superfund program could be the best, and maybe the only option to do some sort of meaningful remediation in the tainted basin, especially as some of the latest studies show continued degradation of water quality. “In certain months, the peak concentrations for metals have been increasing … They’re creeping up and we don’t know why,” said U.S. Geological Survey researcher Andrew Todd. “Right now, it’s just looking at dots on a plot,” he said…

Most of the metals pollution in the Snake comes from Peru Creek, both from abandoned mines in the basin, as well as from natural sources, as water trickles over highly mineralized rocks. Concentrations are so high that Peru Creek is biologically barren, with no fish or aquatic insects in the tainted water. Even several miles downstream at Keystone, the concentrations of metals exceed state and federal limits set to protect aquatic life. The pollution in Peru Creek is so intense that there’s probably little chance of establishing a self-sustaining fishery directly in that tributary. Even with a cleanup at the Pennsylvania Mine, many other sources of pollution, including natural ones, remain. “I think even with a cleanup, you’d have a biologically dead situation up there,” said Steve Swanson, head of the Blue River Watershed Group…

But at least some of the experts are convinced that they could design and build a functional treatment system that would reduce metals loading downstream, with the ultimate goal of establishing some sort of self-sustaining fishery in the reach from Keystone downstream to Dillon Reservoir.

More Peru Creek Basin coverage here and here.


Snake River watershed: Hands on science project

October 1, 2009

A picture named snakeriver.jpg

Here’s a recap of a recent science project that saw students scattering about 4 different sites in the Snake River watershed, from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Helped by teachers, parents and staffers from the Keystone Science School, about 100 students from Summit Middle School set up research stations last Friday around Keystone at four different sites to measure dissolved oxygen and zinc levels, look for aquatic insects and take other measurements…

To measure the speed of the river’s flow, the students marked off a 50-foot section with red flags, then dropped apples into the water and used a stopwatch to time how long it took — about eight seconds — for the fruit to float downstream. During the next few weeks, the students will analyze the data in the classroom and put together a report of their findings, said science teacher Brian Richardson. Along with a hands-on lesson in scientific research methods, the students found out that there just isn’t much life in the Snake River around Keystone. The students who were looking for bugs came up empty handed. Seeping from the abandoned mine upstream, concentrations of zinc and other metals exceed state and federal limits, in violation of the Clean Water Act…

The Pennsylvania Mine has been fingered as one of the main sources of pollution, but smaller mines in the basin, as well high levels of natural minerals, also contribute to the problem. The long-range goal is improve water quality in the Snake River to a level that could sustain a natural fishery, said Jean Mackenzie, an EPA researcher who has led recent federal cleanup efforts. Years ago, state environmental experts and local volunteers teamed up to try and treat the water with some man-made wetlands and a passive treatment system, but the scale of the problem overwhelmed those efforts…

The current focus is on trying to pinpoint exactly how the polluted water flows through the Pennsylvania Mine and from other polluted drainages in the area. Some of the most polluted water could be diverted away from Peru Creek, experts said. Another option is to move some of the waste rock from the mine away from the water to reduce the amount of pollution reaching the stream.

More Peru Creek Basin coverage here and here.


Summit County: Peru Creek Basin cleanup

September 16, 2009

A picture named perucreekbasin.jpg

Check out the photos from the Peru Creek Basin and Snake River from the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Currently, a group of researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is experimenting with traceable dyes to pinpoint the path of the pollution. The work could help establish the best options for cleaning up Peru Creek and the Snake River. Options include diverting clean water flowing into the mine, moving piles of waste rock away from the water and, ultimately, direct treatment of polluted water flowing out of the mine.

More Peru Creek Basin coverage here and here.


Peru Basin: Dye test starting September 9

September 3, 2009

A picture named perucreekbasin.jpg

From the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

State and federal experts will use three types of dye to trace water flowing through the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, above Keystone near the headwaters of the Snake River…The Sept. 9 study will try to pinpoint underground pollution sources and identify ground water flow pathways that may be sources of water in contact with polluted…The study is expected to last approximately two years or until the dye has been observed in subsequent samplings from the monitoring locations.

More Peru Creek watershed coverage here and here.


Peru Creek Basin: Efforts at restoration paint a costly and complicated picture

August 15, 2009

A picture named perucreekbasin.jpg

Many Colorado water watchers were hoping that the restoration work up in the Peru Creek Basin would be a successful demonstration project for good samaritan efforts at mine cleanup. What has been shown is that restoration projects related to past mining activity are complicated and costly. Current estimates for cleaning up the runoff and drainage in the basin is at $20 million. Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

That amount includes construction and annual operations and maintenance for as long as 20 years, but it’s still much higher than expected. When Trout Unlimited entered the picture, there was speculation that a treatment plant could be built for under $1 million. “All the work that’s been done up there paints a much more dire picture of what we need to do,” [Trout Unlimited's Liz Russell] said. He said the stakeholders working on the cleanup had also hoped that Congress would have passed some Good Samaritan legislation by now. Such a liability limiting law would have eased the cleanup process by enabling a nonprofit to work on remediation without fear of being pinned with responsibility for the cleanup work forever.

One option that’s not on the table anymore is a Superfund designation for the Pennsylvania Mine. EPA officials previously suggested a Superfund listing would loosen up federal funding for a cleanup. But county officials were not keen on the idea of Superfund status for the mine, preferring to explore alternate options instead.

This summer, some of the research at mine is focused on treating other sources of pollution in the area besides the mine itself. State and federal experts are teaming up to find sites for repositories, where some of the mine waste could be stored in a place where running water can’t get to it. That could help reduce metals-loading into Peru Creek.

The Snake River is showing signs of making a comeback. From the sidebar to the article linked above:

Latest survey shows promising signs of recovery
Trout populations in the Snake River appear to be making a comeback after a surge of pollution two years ago all but wiped out most of the fish. Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists recently surveyed a stretch of the river running through Keystone Resort and found evidence that some rainbow trout survived over the winter.

More Peru Creek Basin coverage here.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 887 other followers

%d bloggers like this: