News Releases from Region 08

07/12/2021

DENVER:  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will initiate a removal action at the Telluride Valley Floor/Boomerang Road Site starting the week of July 19th  in Telluride, San Miguel County, Colorado. This action involves the cleanup and disposal of lead and arsenic-contaminated soil and mine tailings along the San Miguel River on Federal and private land.

“This action is an important step in our ongoing efforts to address human health and environmental risks at the Telluride Valley Floor Site/Boomerang Road Site,” said Betsy Smidinger, director of EPA Region 8’s Superfund and Emergency Response Division. “The removal of these tailings and restoration of the San Miguel River will protect the community from lead and arsenic, improve aquatic habitat, and enhance a highly valued and visited natural area.”

Work is expected to begin in late-July and continue through October, with river restoration work to potentially continue into 2022. Work plans include removal and disposal of tailings and soil found in and near the streambank; as well as stream restoration to re-establish aquatic habitat and mitigate bank erosion. 

Signs to inform the public about the removal action, and discourage access to reclaimed areas, will be installed. In addition, safety measures will be in place to protect workers and the community, which includes temporarily redirecting recreational trails around the work area.  

To begin this removal action, the clearing of trees and vegetation will be necessary. As appropriate, removed trees and vegetation will be used for stream restoration or habitat enhancement while some may be chipped for use in revegetation. Stormwater and erosion control management plans will be implemented to mitigate the impacts of the tree and vegetation removal.

The tailings will be loaded in haul trucks that will be operated and inspected in order to ensure contaminants do not spread during transportation. All tailings will be placed on Newmont/Idarado property in a repository known as tailings piles 5/6. Please contact Chris Wardell, EPA Public Information Officer, at (303) 312-6062 or the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Norwood Ranger District office at (970) 327-4261 with questions or concerns regarding the clean-up.

Background: 

This 34-acre Site is located along the San Miguel River South of the Vally Floor Open Space, on lands primarily under the jurisdiction, custody, and control of the USFS. A small portion, approximate five acres, is owned by the Town of Telluride. It is within the boundaries of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests and accessed along Boomerang Road south from west Colorado Avenue (Highway 145 Spur).

The Site was referred to EPA by the USFS in the fall of 2020, after sampling found mine tailings containing high levels of lead and arsenic. A subsequent site visit found tailings along the bank visibly sloughing into the San Miguel River and hiking and biking paths located on tailings piles where dust was being stirred up by visitors. These conditions led to EPA’s initiation of phase one also known as the emergency response actions last fall. 

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Author: Editor
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