Stimulus dough for mine cleanups

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It seems like there is some good news contained in the stimulus bill on the mine cleanup front. Here’s a report from the New York Times. From the article:

Together, the Interior and Agriculture departments expect to set off a hiring boom among idled industry and agricultural workers whose charge will be to clean up thousands of abandoned hardrock mines that once formed the backbone of the region’s economy, but whose greater legacy is one of toxic wastes and thousands of miles of contaminated rivers, creeks and streams.

Three agencies — the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service — are working to finalize the list of cleanup projects to be funded with $105 million in stimulus money. Nearly half of the money, $50 million, will go the Park Service, whose lackluster attention to abandoned mines drew sharp criticism from the Interior Department’s inspector general in a report issued last July. The remaining funds will be split between BLM and the Forest Service, at $30 million and $25 million, respectively, according to a spokesman for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who sponsored an amendment detailing the agencies’ shares…

One example of a mine whose lingering pollution problems could be addressed under the stimulus package is the Pennsylvania Mine in northwest Colorado.

The abandoned hardrock mine, whose operations date to the late 1800s, continues to bleed toxic metals, including lead and copper, into nearby Peru Creek. From there, the metals move down the Snake River watershed, cutting through the White River National Forest and past expensive ski lodges before emptying into a massive reservoir that provides drinking water for the Denver metro area (Land Letter, Dec. 4, 2008).

The pollution has decimated once-thriving stocks of rainbow and brook trout [ed. I think they mean Cutthroat trout.] and turned Peru Creek into the most polluted waterway in the Snake River watershed, said Jean Mackenzie, a remedial project manager at EPA’s Denver regional office who is overseeing the cleanup effort.

Now, the Pennsylvania Mine is a strong candidate to receive cleanup money from the stimulus package, said Kurt Muenchow, abandoned mine lands program manager for the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region in Denver.

Thanks to Colorado Trout Unlimited for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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