The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed sealing the Red & Bonita Mine above Gladstone in an effort to stem acid-mine drainage flowing into Cement Creek and ultimately into the Animas River.
The action, proposed for 2015, has the potential of greatly improving water quality downstream, with little downside, state and federal environmental officials said Thursday, Feb. 20, at a meeting of the Animas River Stakeholders Group.
Steven Way, coordinator for the EPA’s efforts to address contamination on Cement Creek, said the project may cost up to $1.5 million and “it’s anticipated that the EPA would pay for it.”
The concrete bulkhead plugging the mine entrance would include a valve to allow sampling of water and restore the flow from the mine if necessary.
“We could see how the system responds,” Way said. He suggested there could be seasonal releases from the bulkhead if other discharge points prove problematic.
He pointed out that a team headed by the EPA entered the long dormant mine last year and found it might be “favorable” for bulkheading.
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