Clear Creek watershed: Cotter Corp promises to clean up discharges from the Schwartzwalder mine


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

“Whatever the courts tell us to do, we will do,” Cotter president Amory Quinn said in a telephone interview from San Diego. “We will follow the letter of the law. If they demand we pump and treat, I guess we will pump and treat.” He did not commit to a timetable for that cleanup, though a creek-diversion pipe around the mine should be done by Jan. 31…

“We look forward to seeing Cotter’s plans and financial warranties for complying with the board orders,” Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety director Loretta Pineda said. Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt recently ruled in favor of state mining regulators in one of two lawsuits Cotter filed challenging orders to clean up the Schwartzwalder mine. That decision clears the way for removal of contaminated mine water and the posting of sufficient bond money to protect Ralston Creek, which flows into a Denver drinking-water-supply reservoir.

A decision is expected soon on Cotter’s second lawsuit, which challenges Colorado’s ability to enforce orders. Colorado Department of Natural Resources officials say this decision will help define what the state can do when companies defy legally valid orders.

On Wednesday, Quinn pointed out that Cotter has installed a sump system along Ralston Creek, below the mine. This apparently has reduced the concentrations of uranium entering the creek. Data provided by state officials shows readings ranging from 713 parts per billion in February to 39 in June. In July, the most recent reading available, the level had increased to 89 parts per billion. The state limit is 30 parts per billion. “We’re making that standard periodically,” Quinn said. But low flows in the creek during dry months, he said, result in uranium concentrations that are higher.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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