Interim action

Friday, June 15, 2018 11:15 PM

The EPA’s announcement of a plan to begin cleanup of 26 contaminated mining sites in the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund area as soon as possible was welcome news in a week dominated by the spectre of the 416 and Burro fires.

The agency will focus on these areas while also formulating a larger, more comprehensive and long-term plan for the entire district, which is comprised of a total of 48 sites.

EPA project manager Rebecca Thomas put it best by calling these early actions “no-brainer activities,” that can be undertaken without further investigation. Work on these areas should provide a measurable effect in reducing the amount of toxic minerals contaminating the upper Animas River basin.

We are glad to see that included among the sites are some popular locations near Silverton that are commonly used for recreation but are contaminated with unhealthy levels of arsenic and lead. Cleaning two campgrounds north of town on County Road 2, near Howardsville and Animas Forks – an area long popular with tourists and local families – and some additional recreation areas as soon as possible makes good sense.

As the sites are cleaned and restored, which will take time, they should once again prove popular, but no longer hazardous, especially to children.

Field work on the sites should be underway before the end of the year, and we urge the agency to establish and keep to an ambitious schedule whenever conditions allow.

In less welcome news from our high-country neighbor, Silverton announced that it has canceled its Fourth of July fireworks.

That’s another no-brainer, considering this summer’s fire danger, but the news is painful nonetheless. The town’s July 4 celebration is its biggest event of the year, and its biggest money-maker.

If conditions surrounding the 416 Fire allow, and if U.S. Highway 550 is open without restrictions during the first week of next month, we urge everyone with plans to spend the holiday in Silverton to keep them.

There is much more to see than just fireworks, and our neighbors to the north will certainly be glad to see you.