Energy policy — nuclear: Cotter cleanup

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Here’s a recap of the recent public meeting about the Lincoln Park superfund cleanup, from Tracy Harmon writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Monday meeting focused on five-year review results at the Lincoln Park Superfund site which has been the target of cleanup efforts since 1984. The site en- compasses Cotter Corp’s uranium mill and a portion of the surrounding Lincoln Park neighborhood. Contamination from old unlined tailings ponds seeped into the groundwater during the early days of the mill operation which geared up in 1958. Some soils also were contaminated by tailings that escaped the mill site in the 1960s during a flood.

Although there have been massive efforts to clean up contaminated soils, Pat Smith, a remedial manager with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said she is unwilling to have only the soils removed from the Superfund designation “due to new standards for the groundwater.” Much attention focused on the groundwater contamination and potential use of wells by residents who move into the area and are not notified of the uranium and molybdenum levels in their wells…

State health official Edgar Ethington said a major source of groundwater contamination, if not the main source – the old tailings ponds area – was cleaned up last year by Cotter workers. Some of the digging went down almost 30 feet to ground water in some areas…

Health officials said the newer lined tailings ponds, which are in the process of being dewatered and capped should help prevent future contamination. Phil Egidi of the state health department said as the newer tailings ponds are dewatered, Cotter will be required to “put a big, robust cap on it.”[…]

Discussion also focused on a “northwest plume” of contaminated groundwater located underneath the Shadow Hills Golf Course which is right next to the Cotter mill site. Cotter has hired a geologist to investigate the plume. “There is only uranium contamination, no molybdenum like the rest of the groundwater, so the simplest explanation is that it has a different source,” Ethington said. Ethington said investigation so far has ruled out an obvious possible source, an old, buried water channel. “Cotter still has work to do to see where the water is moving. They will install wells and test the water,” Ethington said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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