Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mine Waste to be Moved

A controversial plan to move several thousand cubic yards of tainted mine waste to a managed storage site in French Gulch got a conditional approval from the Breckenridge town council Tuesday.

Several mine waste piles on the national forest Claimjumper parcel - some with concentrations of lead as high as five percent - will be removed this summer and piled atop similarly polluted material near the abandoned Wellington-Oro mine, then capped, re-vegetated and monitored.

In their current location, next to the Claimjumper condos, the piles have been deemed a direct health risk, especially for any children playing outside. The main threat is through ingestion, EPA toxicologist Susan Griffin said at the council meeting.

"The soil easily sticks to hands. It's available for hand-to-mouth contact," Griffin said.

Next, the county commissioners will take a look at the cleanup, while the EPA, Forest Service and local planners develop a specific action plan and timeline.

Local residents still had plenty of questions, but after several public information meetings and town council hearings, it appeared that many had their most serious concerns allayed.

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