Telluride: The Sheep Mountain Alliance plans to file a Clean Water Act citizen action against PacifiCorp over acid mine drainage into the Howard Fork of the San Miguel River

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From The Telluride Watch:

Sheep Mountain Alliance has formally notified Oregon-based utility company PacifiCorp and Silver Bell owner Lee Wynne of plans to initiate a citizen enforcement action under the Clean Water Act to stop the pollution of the San Miguel River.

PacifiCorp owns and maintains the Silver Bell tailings remediation site, located near the Ophir Loop, but has, according to SMA Executive Director Hillary White, allowed the site to discharge heavy metals, acidic drainage, and effluent solids into the Howard Fork of the San Miguel between October 2006 and the present.

“Because of the persistent and ongoing nature of these violations, we have every reason to expect that PacifiCorp’s pollution will keep endangering the San Miguel River unless we take a strong stance and make it clear that the site must be cleaned up immediately and all the water quality violations corrected,” said White. “The Silver Bell tailings site at Ophir Loop is vitally important to protecting the health of the Howard Fork of the San Miguel,” she said, and “the site is violating discharge standards with acid discharge, iron, and solids, and that affects drinking water supplies downstream as well as habitat for fish and wildlife.”

PacifiCorp has 60 days to correct the ongoing discharge violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the Silver Bell site, or it could potentially face fines, to be imposed by a federal court, for its past five years of violations.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

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