Colorado Mine Clean Up: 26 Sites with heavy metal contamination

The EPA has announced it’s steps to action for clean up of wastewater from over two dozen old mines in the southwest region of Colorado. The interim plan only focuses on removing contaminates from 26 sites, including aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, and zinc. The total project includes 48 mines, but the 26 chosen for initial remediation were selected due to their proximity to recreational sites and parking lots as well as possible high levels of arsenic and lead. This clean up has been prompted by a wastewater spill at the inactive Gold King mine near Silverton in 2015. A blowout was accidentally trigged at a mine entrance, releasing 11.4 million litres of waste water. This affected rivers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah as well as Native American reservations. The EPA plans to keep heavy metals from flowing into rivers by dredging contaminated sediment from streambeds, digging ditches to divert water away from tainted rocks & soil, covering mine waste piles and contaminated soil with gravel or plant growth to reduce human exposure and keep contaminants from being kicked into the air. This clean up prompts discussion of the best remediation techniques for wastewater, as well as how to prevent more cases like this in the future.

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