The U.S. EPA has found itself mired in a public battle with the Colorado mining company Sunnyside Gold Corp. concerning who should foot the bill for a water study. The company is accusing the agency of failing to properly run a southwestern Colorado treatment plant at full capacity, allowing untreated mine wastewater to seep into the Animas River. EPA claims that further upgrades to the plant would be necessary if it were to treat water from additional locations.
Currently, the treatment plant treats wastewater that is sourced from the inactive Gold King Mine. This incident only marks one in a line of small feuds between the agency and the company, as each believes the other should pay for a water study in order to develop a cleanup plan for the area.
Denver-based regional director for the EPA, Doug Benevento, claims the company’s criticism is just a distraction.
“It’s unfortunate that instead of cooperating… they distract and try to point fingers back at us,” Benevento said.
In opposition, Sunnyside claims it is not at fault for any ongoing pollution resulting from the inactive mine.
“The fact is, (Sunnyside) is not the cause of water quality issues in the Animas River,” said spokesman Larry Perino.
The inactive mine has been a source of controversy since it was originally designated as a Superfund site by EPA in 2016. 47 further mining sites are contributing pollution to the Animas River.