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Udall Mines Clarification For Good Samaritan Cleanup Rules

Bruce McAllister
Environmental Protection Agency - Public Domain
Water poluted by high mineral content flows from the abandoned Argo Mine near Idaho Springs.

Colorado Senator Mark Udall took to the US Senate floor Tuesday morning in an attempt to find better ways volunteers can legally help clean up abandoned hard rock mines in the west. Polluted water flows out of these mines and that can contaminate entire watersheds.

The General Accountability Office says there are over 160,000 abandoned hard rock mines in the west, 7,000 here in Colorado.

Senator Udall says groups attempting to clean up the mines are good Samaritans. However many run into red tape and regulation costs they can’t afford. That leaves them unable, or unwilling to incur the costs to properly clean up abandoned mine sites.

“Good Samaritans are too valuable a resource to keep on the sidelines. They can’t solve all the abandoned mine pollution problems. But we can’t afford to turn away those willing to help any longer.”

Udall says he’s been trying to work with volunteer organizations and the Environmental Protection Agency to find a streamlined legal way to protect groups that are willing and able to clean up polluted sites around the west.

Udall’s bill is also being supported by fellow Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, signed on to a letter sent to the EPA asking for clearer protections for these groups.

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