On Aug. 5, 2015, contractors for the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally released 3 million gallons of contaminated mine wastewater into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River. The event triggered a controversial effort to seek Superfund cleanup for the Silverton area. That decision hangs in the balance. But in the year since the massive blowout that affected thousands of residents downstream and polluted two rivers in three states, the Gold King Mine spill is slowly beginning to change the legacy of mining in Southwest Colorado.
Environmental Protection Agency documents show the proposed Superfund site in Silverton includes 48 mines — 26 that drain into the Upper Animas River, seven that drain into Mineral Creek and 15 that drain into Cement Creek. The site will be called Bonita Peak Mining District if it receives Superfund designation to clean up contamination. Click the pin on a site to learn what minerals were mined at the site, patents held and company that owns it.
The Gold King Mine blowout on Aug. 5, 2015 sent 3 million gallons of wastewater into the Animas River, which flows into the San Juan River. The San Juan flows into the Colorado River. The Colorado River is dammed, so it's possible the metals and sediment did not make it beyond Lake Powell.