Cotter Corp. has informed regulators it will close two toxic-waste impoundment ponds at the mill “as soon as reasonably achievable,” according to a letter Cotter sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cotter, which had previously said the mill would be reopened, now has told state regulators it will stop testing for radon emissions at the site because it is “no longer an active facility” subject to regulation.
The apparent reversal, and Cotter’s decision to stop testing for radon emissions, caught local leaders by surprise. The site has been designated a polluted Superfund site and Cotter has been responsible for monitoring to make sure cancer- causing radon was not escaping the facility.
Fremont County Commissioner Mike Stiehl questioned whether Cotter can stop tests. “That
doesn’t sound right to me.”
More coverage from Tracy Harmon writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
“They are working toward closing the impoundments and have been dewatering (drying out) the impoundments for years,” said Jeannine Natterman, public information officer for the Colorado Department of Health. “They have not officially notified us they are closing the (entire) facility.”[…]
Manager John Hamrick said the company will close both the primary and secondary waste impoundments, “as soon as reasonably achievable.” The letter goes on to indicate that radon testing will not be carried out on the primary impoundment this year and in subsequent years because it is no longer an active impoundment. “They have planned to close the impoundments all along and they have been taking old structures down. What the letter means is that they are close to permanently capping the impoundments,” Natterman explained. “Even once capped, the primary impoundment can be used for new, more contemporary operations because it would not have the same material going in. If it is appropriately capped and appropriate materials are used for the cap, the primary impoundment could be used again,” Natterman said.