What’s that sludge?

DAILY NEWS STAFF REPORTS
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

December 30, 2007

Boo. Our history is still coming back to haunt. A surge of toxic metals washing out of Peru Creek into the Snake River killed hundreds of trout in August, showing why local officials are putting a focus on cleaning up abandoned mines.With some new initiatives from the federal government and the involvement of Trout Unlimited, there was some progress in tackling the Pennsylvania Mine in Peru Creek, one of the worst sites in the county. A model agreement covering volunteer cleanups could help speed a remediation project at the Pennsylvania Mine.

In the Blue River drainage, Breckenridge and Summit County have started construction of a water treatment facility at the site of the Wellington-Oro mine. When it’s finished, the plant will remove zinc from French Gulch and improve water quality downstream in the Blue River.

And in another cleanup project, the EPA and the Forest Service removed tons of rock tainted with high levels of lead from the federal Claimjumper Parcel along Airport Road. The material was moved to a repository in French Gulch, where it will remain indefinitely.

The project stirred local opposition, as residents of the French Gulch area questioned why they should have to live with new mine waste in addition to the large piles of tainted rock already present near their neighborhood.

But federal officials touted the Claimjumper cleanup as a win-win, citing improved environmental conditions in both locations.

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