Summitville MineColorado, Rio Grande County, Congressional District #3,
EPA ID# COD 983778432
National Priorities List
ABOUT THE SUMMITVILLE MINE SITE . . .
The Summitville Mine site covers about 1,400 acres of Rio Grande County. It lies some twenty miles southwest of Del Norte, high in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. It is an abandoned gold mine that was leaking cyanide, acid and metal-laden mine water into the headwaters of the Alamosa River. The pollutants killed aquatic life and threatened the irrigated farmland downstream. The State of Colorado, citizens of the San Luis Valley and the U.S. EPA are working together to clean up the site.
Mining began at Summitville in the 1870s. In the 1980s, Summitville Consolidated Mining Company, Inc. (SCMCI) started large-scale surface gold mining, using the heap-leach process. Pyritic, gold-bearing ore was mined, crushed and stacked or heaped on a multi-layered, lined pad. A solution of sodium cyanide was used to leach gold from the ore. It was sprinkled on the heaped ore and allowed to percolate down through it. Then the sodium-cyanide solution was pumped to a facility that removed the gold. The mining greatly increased the acidity and dissolved metals in the surrounding streams, damaging aquatic life. Those dissolved metals include aluminum, copper, iron, manganese and zinc.
Additional long term activities are ongoing: Retrofitting a water-treatment plant that is capable of treating 1000 gallons of water per minute. Monitoring surface water and seepage to evaluate the effectiveness of the water-control strategy.
Mine reclamation activities were completed in October 2001. They included constructing
As a result of these reports, CDPHE conducted a caged-fish experiment to see if rainbow trout would survive in various locations in the Alamosa River and the Terrace Reservoir. During the 96-hour exposure study, all of the rainbow trout survived. At the end of the study, the fish were released. This experiment has been viewed as one indication of water-quality improvement in the river and does not imply that remedial work there is complete.
WHAT REMAINS TO BE DONE
The final site Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS), led by CDPHE, were completed in summer 2001. After considering public comment, EPA and CDPHE selected a final remedy for the site in September 2001. The goal of the remedy is to restore both water chemistry and aquatic life in the Alamosa River and Terrace reservoir.
The final remedy includes:
Design of the water-treatment plan will continue throughout 2003, with construction beginning in 2004. It is scheduled to be completed in 2005.
Thus far, the Agency has recovered a small percentage of the cost from settlements with responsible parties, including Robert Friedland. The money will be used for ongoing cleanup actions at the site, and for restoration, acquisition, or replacement of natural resources. The majority of cleanup costs are being paid by the EPA Superfund program and the State of Colorado.
A group of concerned community members, has a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) from EPA. The purpose of a TAG is to hire an independent technical advisor to review cleanup issues and help inform the community.
[Active NPL Sites][Summitville Proposed Plan][Alamosa River Test][Summitville Photo][Summitville Waste Pond][Summitville Pad Cap][Summitville Contacts][Summitville Map]
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