#Utah continues monitoring of the San Juan River #GoldKingMine #AnimasRiver

On April 7, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear.
Eric Baker

From KSL.com (Amy Joi O’Donoghue):

Erica Gaddis, the newly appointed director of the Utah Division of Water Quality, briefed a committee of lawmakers on the situation during a Tuesday hearing, detailing that 540 tons of heavy metals now rest at the bottom of Lake Powell.

Testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the heavy metal concentrations had all been flushed to Lake Powell by last July, carried along by the currents in the San Juan River.

Gaddis, who assumes her new role next Monday, said metals such as copper, zinc and aluminum tested above federal standards in 2015 in aquatic life in more than 150 samples. By 2016, only aluminum remained — with counts that exceeded the standard in 126 samples…

Gaddis told members of the Legislature’s Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee that Utah, the three other states impacted and Native American tribes are working together to monitor long-term impacts.

That task is complicated given the extent of legacy mining operations in the Bonita Peak Mining District in Colorado, where there are 48 historic mines near Silverton.

Gaddis pointed out that over the last decade, it’s estimated there have been 877 million gallons of water released, with 8.6 million tons of tailings generated from the life of those mines.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has been reimbursed by the EPA for nearly $464,000 in costs in the initial response and another $212,000 in costs have received preliminary approval by the federal government.

Gaddis said about $20 million has been appropriated by a congressional act to help Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Native American tribes with long-term monitoring.

Utah is also keeping its options open for any potential litigation against the EPA regarding the spill, she added.

Cement Creek aerial photo — Jonathan Thompson via Twitter

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