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GN.W. - Next Steps for Gold King Mine?

GN.W. - Next Steps for Gold King Mine?

Next Steps for Gold King Mine?

Durango will probably always remember the day the Animas turned orange. After a blowout at the Gold King Mine, North of Silverton, sent some three million gallons of contaminated water into Cement Creek and the Animas River in 2015, national attention fell to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their culpability for the disaster. Now, nearly three years later, new planned projects are due for release.

EPA’s Role

The EPA has been involved with Bonita Peak Mining District, the site containing 48 historic mining areas around Silverton (including Gold King Mine), since 1990. Facing local resistance and considering existing community efforts to address mining-related environmental impacts, the agency postponed listing the site as an official Superfund site on the National Priorities List (NPL).

Over the years, the EPA and Superfund Removal program provided resources and support for collaborative efforts in the area. In 2015, that program was “conducting an investigation and assessment of the Gold King Mine” when crews inadvertently released a torrent of metal-laden water trapped in a mine tunnel into Cement Creek.

Following the disaster, Governor John Hickenlooper encouraged the Bonita Peak Mining District’s formal inclusion to the Superfund NPL,  with the support of “the Town of Silverton, San Juan County, City of Durango, La Plata County, local tribes and other interested stakeholders.” It was officially added to the NPL on September 9, 2016.

In 2017, “the site team, including EPA, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment” continued investigating the site and studying the risks and impacts that followed the Gold King Mine spill, as well as inspecting and performing work on other mines in the Bonita Peak Mining District.

What’s to be done, now?

We should be finding out soon. The EPA is releasing their plan of attack for the next three to four years of cleanup projects, later this spring. They’ll be continuing current efforts for mitigation, such as water treatment, in the meantime while they continue investigations. Water treatment and diversion at other mining sites in the Bonita Peak Mining District are also up for consideration. If they’re able to deliver results, we should see the Animas River enjoy further recovery from over a century of mining activity upstream.

Olympic Highlights

Today marks the end of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which saw it’s closing ceremony at 4 a.m. this morning (MST). Here’s how the medals stacked up.

At time of writing . . .

While the U.S. hasn’t penetrated the top three countries’ list in terms of medals (held firmly by Norway, Germany, and Canada, eh), it’s certainly had its share of glory.

Seventeen-year-old snowboarder, Red Gerard of Silverthorne, CO, laid claim to our country’s first gold medal of the ‘18 Olympics while competing in men’s snowboard slopestyle. The run looked incredible! Heading into his final run, Gerard sat in last place before his winning attempt with a score of 87.16. His age really showed during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, which only makes the accomplishment more impressive.

Jamie Anderson took gold during women’s snowboard slopestyle after recovering from two years of back-to-back injury, bringing the US gold medal count to four in snowboarding alone.

Korean-American Chloe Kim won the US’s heart, and a gold medal, with her dominating performance during women’s snowboard halfpipe. Scoring 8.5 points above the silver medalist from China.

Shaun White delivered a gold performance in the men’s halfpipe competition after finishing off the podium in fourth place at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, marking his “Bumpy Ride Back to the Top” (though it’s not free from controversy).

Another Coloradoan laid claim to gold when she won women’s giant slalom on Wednesday. Mikaela Shiffrin, who touts the value of a good nap, took home the second Olympic gold of her career with a time of 1:09:20, upsetting the Norwegian lead during the event.

So far, three of the US’s eight medals have been earned by fellow Coloradans, with more potential wins around the corner (at time of writing). Plus, Colorado itself has won more 2018 Winter Olympic medal than 81 countries, which sounds pretty impressive.

Look For the Helpers

Sharing is Caring

  • From The Herald: After a challenging transition from its previous location, the new Rock Lounge is nearing completion! “This is not about a business, this is about a community center.”
  • From The Telegraph: Our recent snow storms (thank goodness!) are finally making way for an opening day at Hesperus Ski Area. “Mother Nature has been fashionably late to Southwest Colorado this season, but that’s no reason to cancel the party.”
  • From NMSB: The true story behind mountain biking’s first hardcore downhill film: Pulp Traction. “ . . . Pulp Traction, made in 1995, is likely the first film that gave riders a glimpse of what mountain bikes were capable of.”
  • From Fast Co.: This award winning photograph of a single atom is mind-blowing. “A different kind of pale blue dot, but just as extraordinary as Voyager’s famed eponymous photo of the Earth looking like ‘a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.’”
  • From NPR: Penguins giving each other Valentines. ‘Nuff said.

P.S. I’ll be traveling abroad for the next week and a half, meaning you’re inbox will be Good News(letter)-free for the next two Sundays. In the meantime, here’re are a few ways YOU can be the good news. Ta ta for now, I’m going to miss you!

This week’s good news, brought to you by:

Let’s face it, nobody plans to get hurt, sick or worst. It’s just not something we want to think about. The bad news is that sometimes these things happen regardless. The good news? There are people out there who want to look after us.

The Best Way to Plan for the Worst

Fortunately, First Southwest Bank’s first priority is us, providing excellent service and support for clients and the community altogether. Recently, they started teaching us a bit about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Turns out, they’re a great way to plan for the long-term while staying prepared for unplanned medical misfortune that could be right around the corner.

What is an HSA? A supercharged, interest-bearing, flexible medical care spending account that never expires and can serve as an extra retirement-savings fund. Contributions are tax-free/deductible for you, relatives, employers and anyone else interested in keeping you healthy, wealthy and wise. Should you ever need help with qualified medical expenses, you can pay using the HSA rather than out of pocket, saving you money and peace of mind.

While those funds are there for medical needs, we hope you’ll never need to use it. Any untapped assets in the account can be used towards retirement, so either way you’re making things easier for yourself down the road. Unless you’ve got a problem with that, you can get in touch with the lovely people of First Southwest Bank to get the ball rolling, at 600 E 2nd Ave, 9a-5:30p, M-F.


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