Nearly 50 Abandoned Mines To Be Part Of Silverton Superfund Application

· Feb. 19, 2016, 7:33 pm
Photo: Silverton City Aerial Up Close (STAFF)Grace Hood
A view of the city of Silverton. 

Silverton town leaders have released a list of 48 abandoned mines and mine-production sites to be included in a potential Superfund designation. And after hitting a roadblock in January, town officials say they've scheduled an official vote on moving forward for Monday at 4 pm.

According to maps and data released Friday morning, the Superfund site would be called "Bonita Peak Mining District Site" and would include mines across Cement Creek, Animas River and Mineral Creek.

Town officials say the individual sites themselves would be designated as part of the project. This is an important distinction because it means that land tracts near mine sites wouldn't have the Superfund label. That's a key distinction for private land owners who worry about property values.

Silverton's town council and San Juan County Commissioners will discuss the terms of the Superfund project and vote next week on the clean up project. If the Environmental Protection Agency accepts the proposal, it will become a National Priorities List site. That launches an assessment process that could add or remove mines from the project list. 

As such, according to the EPA's own documentation, it could take years before actual clean up work begins near Silverton. On average, it takes about six years to evaluate hardrock mining sites on before ground is broken. The EPA says it takes 12 years for "construction completion achievement." 

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