The Environmental Protection Agency has so far spent more than $14 million in its response to the Aug. 5 Gold King Mine blowout, according to an internal document.
And an Oct. 6 weekly Situation Report “for internal use only” says the agency costs are now adding up to more than $100,000 per day.
As of Oct. 5, the agency reported a workforce of 72 engaged in the project, including 26 contractor employees, five U.S. Coast Guard personnel and two EPA officials in Gladstone.
An additional 33 EPA employees are working on the project from other locations, along with a handful of other contractor employees.
The report listed six federal agencies involved in the response, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in addition to the EPA.
Two Colorado state agencies and four New Mexico agencies have also devoted resources to the response.
Cynthia Peterson, community involvement coordinator with the EPA, said as of Sept. 28, 33 EPA and Coast Guard personnel and contractors were working at the mine site, and 29 EPA personnel and contractors were working at the Incident Command Post in Durango.
“Over the next 12 months, EPA anticipates scaling down dramatically the number of contractors in the Silverton-Durango region, but, while scaled-down, EPA will have a continued local presence supporting work at the mine site, operating the temporary water-treatment plant, stabilizing the Gold King Mine audit, maintaining the Red and Bonita bulkhead, and implementing the Monitoring Plan on Cement Creek and the Animas and San Juan rivers,” Peterson said.
And Peterson said it may take a few months for the EPA to prepare a Hazards Ranking System assessment to see if the mines on Cement Creek qualify for National Priority Listing under the Superfund law.
“Although EPA prepared a draft HRS report for Cement Creek in 2011, significant new environmental data has been collected since then that needs to be considered,” Peterson said. “EPA has not initiated a new HRS report but estimates that, once initiated, it would take 3-6 months to complete one, followed by the rulemaking process. This rulemaking process includes releasing the HRS report and supporting references for a 60-day public comment period.”