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EPA releases plan for interim cleanup actions at the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site

Actions to remove mine waste, reduce metals loading to Upper Cement Creek to begin this summer

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Richard Mylott (

DENVER -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released an Interim Record of Decision (IROD) to begin cleanup actions at several mining-related sources at the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site in San Juan County, Colorado. Under the IROD, EPA will begin work this summer on interim cleanup actions at 23 source areas, with full completion of those actions expected over the next three to five years.

The IROD will initiate cleanup actions at the site while EPA conducts an ongoing site investigation that will inform the development of a comprehensive cleanup plan, or a Final Record of Decision, for larger and more complex sources of contamination at the site.

“EPA has worked diligently to identify a set of initial cleanup actions at locations that present clear human and environmental risks at the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site. We look forward to beginning work in these areas immediately,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “These interim actions will help us move forward while we work with our partners, the community, and potentially responsible parties to investigate the more complex sources contributing to water quality impairment at the site.”

The interim remedial actions detailed in the IROD include: reducing human exposure to metals at recreational areas; removing waste rock from historical mining activities from streams; diverting water from mine portals and around mine waste piles; maintaining sedimentation ponds; and reducing the amount of contaminant migration during storm events and spring snow melt. EPA will prioritize work at several source areas in 2019, including at dispersed campgrounds and recreation staging areas that have been identified as posing a potential risk to human health. Additional remedial activities are planned this year in the Cement Creek drainage.

The interim remedial actions included in the IROD address the EPA’s goal of minimizing human and ecological risks in the Bonita Peak Mining District by stabilizing mine source areas. These actions will reduce contaminant loading to surface waters and performance monitoring will inform the development of future cleanup remedies for the entire site under an adaptive management framework. Adaptive management, recommended by the 2017 Superfund Task Force Report to accelerate cleanups, is a structured and continuous planning, implementation and assessment process to target management and resource decisions. The goal is to incrementally reduce site uncertainties while supporting continued site progress.

The IROD also includes responses to significant comments received during the June 21, to August 15, 2018, comment period for the Proposed Plan for Interim Remedial Actions.

For access to the IROD and more information about the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site: