A legacy that won't die

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A legacy that won't die

Mining in Silverton a long tradition that some want to return
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For more coverage on mining in the Four Corners, visit DurangoHerald.com/mining

In this three-part series

TODAY: How serious the problem is and why it's been so difficult to fix. Also, why Silverton has resisted federal money and the Superfund label that would come with it.
Monday: Possible solutions and who might pay. Also, successes in cleaning up mines in the Mineral Creek drainage.
Tuesday: Silverton's mining history lures tourists. Faced with a difficult environmental challenge, residents talk about bringing the industry back after a 22-year absence.

A legacy that won't die

Walking in the so-called “kill zone” below the Red and Bonita Mine, Peter Butler, co-coordinator of the Animas River Stakeholders Group, sees water carrying high levels of metals that will flow into Cement Creek north of Silverton. Scientists say plants and animals cannot live in the “kill zone” because the water contains toxic metal concentrations.
Water flowing down the mountainside out of the Red and Bonita Mine contains high levels of metals that will make its way into Cement Creek. For more than a decade, Cement Creek has in turn been contaminated by manganese, zinc, copper, lead, cadmium, aluminum and iron.
Water flowing from the Red and Bonita Mine north of Silverton leaves a wake of lifelessness in its path.
The color of rocks indicates the heavy amount of minerals coming from the Red and Bonita Mine. Some of the mineralization is natural, but scientists believe much is caused by drainage from abandoned mines.
Metal-polluted water creates a spectacular palette of colors.
A panoramic image of two photos shows natural spring water meeting toxic metals along Cement Creek’s bank.
Red and Bonita is one of the mines draining toxic concentrations of metal into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River.
Toxic water flows out of the American Tunnel north of Silverton. The water dumping into Cement Creek and then into the Animas River in Silverton. The structure at the site was once used to treat the water from the tunnel with lime.
Water flowing out of portals next to Mogul Mine, and flowing of out the mine, not seen, will quickly reach Cement Creek, adding to the heavy concentration of minerals. The most northern big mine in the Cement Creek drainage area started leaking out of its portals in 2006, but the main mine has always been draining.
Bev Rich
Butler
Simon
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