This means the federal agency would have to grant an extension, or the town will wait until September to begin the never-ending federal cleanup process.
Silverton wisely decided to hold off on giving Gov. Hickenlooper the green light to bring in the EPA, because the federal agency is waffling on whether the cleanup will encroach on Silverton’s town limits, the Durango Herald reports.
The EPA began testing soil in the town for contamination months before the Animas River spill even occurred, but assured locals the cleanup would be limited to discharges in Cement Creek outside the city’s boundaries.
It appears those terms have changed.
“They are looking at a larger area than what we initially thought,” San Juan County Manager William Tookie said. “Rather than painting with a broad brush stroke, we want to be surgical. We want to identify properties that are a contributing factor, as opposed to drawing a big circle.”
Tookie said the EPA is now looking to address mines leaking into the Upper Animas, as well as Mineral Creek – another tributary of the Animas River – and some of those mining claims come uncomfortably close to town.
Locals also want the EPA to sign off on an agreement giving them decision-making powers in the Superfund process.
We’re going to withhold judgment on this development, just because we like Silverton’s chutzpah in demanding that the EPA cede some of that impending federal authority over their lives.