By Mark Esper
The Environmental Protection Agency has conducted intensive water and soil sampling in the upper Cement Creek area in recent weeks to see if the area may qualify as a Superfund site.
The creek has long been considered one of the worst sources of metals contamination in the upper Animas River basin, owing to water laden with heavy metals gushing from abandoned mines in the Gladstone area.
And the water quality in the creek appears to be worsening, said Sabrina Forrest, site assessment manager for the EPA in Denver. This degradation was not what EPA had in mind in the 1990s when EPA backed away from possible Superfund listing of the watershed, Forrest said. Prior EPA management had agreed to forego listing as long as progress was being made in the watershed.
Forrest said the EPA is conducting a site reassessment to determine if the complex of mines near Gladstone could qualify for the National Priorities List (NPL), which would make it eligible for the so-called Superfund.
Superfund is officially called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
Enacted by Congress in 1980, it created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industry to establish a trust fund for major environmental cleanups. This tax no longer exists; however, EPA receives over $7 billion in Congressional funding each year and about $1.2 billion goes to Superfund programs. And the law helps the EPA to identify and establish the liability, viability, and capability of persons potentially responsible for releases of hazardous substances.
For the complete story, see the Thursday, Nov. 18 edition of the Silverton Standard.
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