The Silverton town council and San Juan County Commissioners on Monday signed off on negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency. The topic: a Superfund clean-up near the Gold King Mine.
The Gold King Mine spill last August spewed 3 million gallons of tainted water into the Animas River. The incident was part of a larger issue; there are dozens of other inactive mines leaking water laced with heavy metals that need to be addressed.
San Juan County administrator William Tookey said the entire cleanup will take years, if not decades.
“Just the planning process will take several years," Tookey said. "The implementation will be several years. It will not be a short timeframe.”
Silverton town leaders resisted Superfund designation in the past. Some feared that it would discourage tourism and investment in the area.
But town leaders are rethinking that stance after touring several local Superfund sites earlier this month.
“As part of the negotiation process we would actually be sitting down and determining where the site is designated and how we draw that line. But the town would not be included," Tookey said.
Tookey says the designation will include parts of Cement Creek.