Energy policy — nuclear: Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site cleanup focusing on groundwater pollution with an eye towards discontinuing pumping


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

A top priority, according to Mill Manager John Hamrick, is to move away from having to pump contaminated groundwater that slips past a failed treatment wall and is then moved back onto the mill property. The site is called the dam-to-ditch area which is located between an earthen dam and an irrigation ditch which divides the mill property from the Lincoln Park neighborhood. “We’re investigating the best way to clean it up so the goal will be to eventually quit pumping. It is a small area and the plume is small there but the concentrations (of uranium and molybdenum) have remained the same — they are just sitting there,” Hamrick said. On Monday, Cotter officials notified the state public health department that they have a plan to clean up the dam-to-ditch site…

Cotter officials also are delving into the presence of TCE in groundwater underneath the mill. TCE stands for trichloroethylene and it was first detected in October 2010. “We are investigating the nature and extent of the TCE groundwater plume. There are a couple of things that are puzzling about its presence and we are not even sure the contamination is ours,” Hamrick said. Cotter officials also seek to stop pH testing in the primary waste impoundment. State health officials have ordered Cotter to neutralize the pH level in the impoundment but that requires the injection of a liquid containing lime. “That is going against another order we have to dry out the impoundment,” Hamrick explained…

The tailings pond currently is used as a site to dispose of the old mill buildings that are being dismantled. Also, some old, leftover process liquids, such as kerosene, are being mixed with an absorbent and placed into the impoundment in a dry form, Hamrick said, so keeping the drying-out process going is difficult when liquid containing lime has to be injected into the impoundment.

More Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site coverage here and here.

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