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EPA Lays Out First Steps To Clean Up Gold King Mine

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
These treatment ponds were built at mines close to the Gold King Mine in Colorado. When water leaves the mines, these ponds slow it down and allow us to adjust the pH and let contaminants settle to the bottom.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has come up with an interim plan to hold back some of the toxic heavy metals that spill into rivers from old southwestern Colorado mining sites.

The proposal released Thursday calls for taking short-term cleanup steps while the EPA searches for a more permanent solution under the Superfund program.

The interim plan focuses on controlling or removing contaminants at 26 sites including mine waste piles, ponds and rivers. The cleanup will eventually cover 48 mining sites.

The cleanup was prompted by a massive 2015 spill at the Gold King mine near Silverton. An EPA-led contractor crew inadvertently triggered a blowout of 3 million gallons of wastewater contaminated with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals.

The yellow-orange waste stream polluted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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