Regarding the Oct. 8 Durango Herald editorial, “Red Arrow,” the mining operations at the Red Arrow Mine and at an associated, unpermitted milling site were recently subject to an investigation and enforcement actions by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety and Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board. The Red Arrow Mine was a legal and permitted mine nine miles northeast of Mancos.
The mill, however, is a separate location near Mancos, and is an illegal, unpermitted operation. Neither mining nor milling operations are continuing, and two satellite disposal locations are secured with no public access; as such DRMS does not believe the sites present a threat to public health or safety.
The DRMS immediately recognized the seriousness of this situation, conducted its own preliminary investigation and assessment, and I contacted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the potential need for additional investigation into the site. Our preliminary investigation confirms that more analysis is required before developing a complete remediation plan. Before the federal shutdown, EPA anticipated assessing the site and discussing with DRMS options for moving forward.
In the meantime, DRMS is going ahead with temporary mitigation plans to secure the illegal mill for the winter months. DRMS will fully inform local officials and the community as these plans develop and are finalized. When EPA can engage in the project again, further analysis will be conducted and long-term remediation plans will be discussed. In addition, CDPHE is working with the local community to assess the potential public-health risks possibly associated with these operations.
Loretta Pineda, director, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety