Hickenlooper Approves Superfund Application For Gold King Mine

<p>(Courtesy EcoFlight)</p>
<p>An aerial photograph of the abandoned Gold King Mine, where 3 million gallons of polluted water were accidently released last week by the Environmental Protection Agency.</p>
Photo: Gold King Mine Entrance Aug 13 Aerial (AP)
Wastewater flows down a trough, right, from the site of the blowout at the Gold King mine in August 2015.

formal endorsement to a Superfund clean up for nearly 50 inactive mining sites in southwest Colorado, including the Gold King Mine. A major blowout there sent wastewater into the Animas River last August.

Silverton and San Juan county officials approved the plan last week. But they needed a formal letter from Gov. Hickenlooper to apply to the EPA program. On Monday, the governor acknowledged the delicate situation of asking the EPA--the same agency that triggered the Gold King Mine last August--for help.

“Now we’re going to monitor them," Hickenlooper said. "And stay closely engaged at both the Department of Public Health and Environment. But also [at] the Department of Natural Resources.”

Hickenlooper’s letter says he’s concerned about the problem getting worse before it gets better. It also urges the EPA to ensure that there’s adequate funding for the project. A decision from the EPA is expected this fall. But it could take years of research before clean up can begin.