CMA Statement on EPA Release into Animas River

CMA News Release below.  Also see links to news media coverage below the news release.

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** News Release **

 August 10, 2015


Contact: Stuart Sanderson, (303) 575-9199


                The Colorado Mining Association (CMA) expressed its concern and dismay over the accidental release by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of waters containing metals contaminants into the Animas River from a site where the agency had been performing cleanup work under federal authority.   CMA President Stuart Sanderson characterized the release by EPA as “unusual and serious,” while expressing sympathy for all downstream users and residents impacted by this event.  EPA has acknowledged responsibility for the spill.

                “What happened last week is the exception and not the rule,” Sanderson said.   He also stressed that the activities which led to this incident did not occur at an active mining operation, as all current mining activity in Colorado is regulated under laws that are among the most stringent in the country.

                “Since the legislature modernized Colorado’s regulatory program more than twenty years ago,” Sanderson said, “all mining is subject to strict regulation from exploration to reclamation and final closure of the site.”   During that time, there has never been any major adverse impact on the environment associated with modern mining operations in Colorado, he added.   Mines have won both state and national acclaim for the protection and preservation of the environment.   In fact, CMA became the first association to develop a modern pollution prevention code of practices, working in concert with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and EPA.

                CMA members are available to provide advice and technical expertise to EPA and state regulators.   “The most important thing now,” Sanderson added, “is that the agencies work to stop the spill and prevent, to the extent possible, future damage from occurring, while working with local communities to limit any damage that has already taken place.”

                “EPA will have to answer many questions about the events that led to this accidental release,” Sanderson stated.   “Future policy discussions should also include removing disincentives to private sector participation in such cleanup efforts, through the enactment of Good Samaritan laws,” he concluded.

                CMA is an industry association, founded in 1876, whose 1,000 members include the producers of coal, metals, agricultural and industrial minerals throughout Colorado and the west, as well as vendors and service providers to Colorado’s $8.8 billion industry.   Colorado is a major producer of gold, molybdenum, coal, gypsum, limestone, sodium bicarbonate and other minerals.


EPA faces criticism, praise at Silverton meeting. EPA says Animas returning to pre event conditions – Durango Herald

Anger Rises as E.P.A. Increases Estimate of Toxic Water Spill at Colorado Mine –

Wastewater From Colorado Mine Reaches New Mexico – ABC News

Animas River fouled by 1 million gallons of contaminated mine water – Denver Post

Regional EPA director calls wastewater spill in Animas River ‘tragic’ – Denver Post

San Juan County spill highlights years of Colorado cleanup effort – Denver Post

Access to Animas River closed after Gold King Mine spills toxic metals into water – Daily Times

Why Was The Environmental Protection Agency Messing With A Mine Above Silverton? – KUNC

Business owners concerned about mine waste spill impacting San Juan River in Utah – Fox 13

Colorado mine waste spill expected to affect Utah waters, including parts of Lake Powell – Fox 13