S.1047 — Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Act of 2011: Senator Udall introduces bill that would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to take over operation of the relief well permanently

June 25, 2011

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Concern about a potential blowout in the tunnel, located north of Leadville, was raised in early 2008 when high groundwater levels were suspected of building pressure from millions of gallons of contaminated water behind bulkheads in the tunnel and possibly leaking into surrounding areas.

Since then, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall has tried to get approval for legislation that would give the Bureau of Reclamation authority to continue operating a relief well and to take steps toward a long-term solution.

The Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Act would clarify that the Bureau of Reclamation has the authority to treat the water diverted into the tunnel and — if necessary — to expand on site to treat additional water. The bureau is also required to maintain the structural integrity of the tunnel to be safe over the long haul.

Previously, Reclamation claimed it lacked specific authority to treat water behind the blockages in the tunnel, a federal facility built to drain mines as a way to improve production in World War II and the Korean War…

Reclamation and the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees mine drainage mitigation at a nearby Superfund site in California Gulch, have been unable to reach a long-term solution.

More Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel coverage here and here.


ASARCO parent Grupo Mexico ponies up $1.79 billion for mining cleanup

December 11, 2009

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From the Environmental News Service:

ASARCO LLC is a mining, smelting, and refining company based in Tucson, Arizona that mines and processes primarily copper. Parent corporation Grupo Mexico is providing the $1.79 billion to resolve the ASARCO’s environmental liabilities from operations that contaminated land, water and wildlife resources on federal, state, tribal and private land in 19 states. “Through this historic settlement, the American public is compensated for the damage and loss of natural resources resulting from ASARCO’s past mining, smelting and refining operations,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Were it not for this agreement, these injured resources would either remain impaired for future generations or require taxpayer expenditures to achieve environmental restoration.” The money from environmental settlements in the bankruptcy will be used to pay for past and future costs incurred by federal and state agencies at the more than 80 sites contaminated by mining operations in 19 states, said federal officials…

The contaminated Superfund sites are in Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

More superfund coverage here.


H.R. 3123: Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel cleanup

September 30, 2009

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From The Colorado Independent (Katie Redding):

The Leadville Mine Drainage Remediation Act of 2009, HR 3123, sponsored by Colorado Republican Doug Lamborn of the 5th District, would order the federal Bureau of Reclamation to take responsibility for the entire length of the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel, which drains zinc, cadmium and lead-laced water from many of Leadville’s historic mines. “We’re ecstatic that we’ve made it through the House again,” said Lake County Commissioner Ken Olsen…

The bill also directs the Bureau to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to treat additional water from the Superfund site. The Bureau has done so in the past, but alleged that it does not have the authority to treat the water in perpetuity.

But Olsen had no patience for federal agencies who won’t use their already-built plant to treat nearby contaminated water. “The plant is made to treat contaminated water entering the Arkansas River,” he insisted. “It’s a public plant.” Olsen added that he was “extremely hopeful” that Senators Udall and Bennet would be able to secure passage of S. 1417 in the Senate.

More H.R. 3123 coverage here.


H.R.3123, Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Remediation Act of 2009

September 13, 2009

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From the Colorado Independent (Katie Redding):

A U.S. House bill ordering the Bureau of Reclamation to pump and clean the contaminated water in the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel was voted down Tuesday, largely by Democrats, including two from Colorado, in what observers suggest looked like clear political gamesmanship.

H.R. 3123 coverage here.


S. 1417 and H.R.3123, Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Remediation Act of 2009

July 19, 2009

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Senator Udall and Representative Lamborn have companion bills in the congress to grease the wheels of pumping from above the collapse in the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. Here’s a report from Ann E. Wibbenmeyer writing for the Leadville Herald Democrat. From the article:

Two bills have been introduced in this current legislative session. Lamborn introduced H.R.3123 and Udall introduced S.1417. Just like federal legislation introduced last year during the state of emergency, these are companion bills clarifying BOR responsibility for the tunnel and the water inside. Last year, the bill introduced in the Senate by former Senator Ken Salazar was halted by opposition from the BOR. The bill introduced jointly by the Congressman Udall and Congressman Lamborn made it to a vote in the House of Representatives. “The clock ran out,” said Udall about the lack of movement on this bill after the vote sent the bill to the Senate. The election loomed and the senate had a lot on its plate, and the bill was introduced rather late, he added.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.


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