DENVER – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the United States District Court in New Mexico approved a consent decree settlement between EPA, the Justice Department, the Department of Interior (DOI), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the State of Colorado, and Sunnyside Gold Corporation (Sunnyside) and its Canadian parent company Kinross Gold Corporation (Kinross) regarding the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund Site (Site). EPA and the Justice Department previously announced the details of the proposed settlement on January 21, which was subject to public review and comment prior to being finalized today. (For reference: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/federal-government-and-state-colorado-settlement-mining-companies-paves-way-additional )
Today’s settlement provides additional funding for the continued cleanup of mining-related contamination within the Upper Animas Watershed and will protect public health and the environment by improving water quality, stabilizing mine source areas, and minimizing releases of contaminants. The settlement also resolves certain federal liability related to the Site, which includes the Gold King Mine and other abandoned mines near Silverton, Colorado.
“This agreement is tremendous news, as it resolves certain alleged environmental liabilities between the parties, secures funds, and allows EPA to expand our cleanup activity at the Site,” said EPA Regional Administrator K.C. Becker. “We look forward to using these resources to address mining-related sources, including historic hardrock mines, tailings and waste rock, to improve the environment for the benefit of the Animas River watershed and downstream communities.”
Under the agreement, Sunnyside and Kinross will pay $40,950,000 to the United States and $4,050,000 to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. All money recovered by the United States will be placed in a special EPA account and used to fund future cleanup actions at the Site. The United States will also contribute $45,000,000 to the ongoing cleanup of the Site.
Under the agreement, Sunnyside is also relieved of its obligation to conduct investigation work at the Site, which will be taken over by EPA. Finally, the agreement grants the United States, the State of Colorado and other parties access to property owned by Sunnyside for the purpose of conducting future cleanup actions. Resolution of these issues frees time and resources devoted to litigation and enables EPA, the State of Colorado, and partners to move forward and focus on the investigation and cleanup of the Site.
EPA leads cleanup activities at the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund Site, with DOI and USDA retaining roles and authorities for actions on publicly managed land. Recent interim cleanup work, including efforts to stabilize mine waste and reduce contaminant releases to surface waters from mining source areas, have improved environmental conditions and will help guide future cleanup actions. EPA has spent over $75 million on cleanup work at the Site to date.
More information about the Site and this settlement can be found at: www.epa.gov/superfund/bonita-peak.