Inactive Colorado Mine Wastes must be Reported, Rules Judge in 10th Circuit
August 24, 2005
Teller County in central Colorado is a place of vast horizons where both abandoned and active mines today are riddled with toxic wastes. Among the worst is the El Paso Gold Mine, a 100-acre plot of land that includes an inactive gold mine and mine shaft, which connects to an underground waste drainage system known as the Roosevelt Tunnel. Although the mine is inactive today, toxic chemicals still leach freely into the drainage system, which empties into Cripple Creek and, eventually, into the Arkansas River. However, rather than reporting the drainage as required under the Clean Water Act, the owners of the mine instead have argued that they are not responsible for the wastes because they were not the “active miners” when the site was in production. Now, a federal judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that the owners are responsible for any wastes that are still actively polluting the area. The case now moves back to the lower court which will determine any penalties and cleanup plans. The good decision will help our efforts to clean-up other mines in the region and stop further pollution into the Arkansas River.
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