Twenty seven years ago the Environmental Protection Agency made a deal with Colorado's health department that is playing out in lawsuits and potentially threatening the future of Colorado's environment.
How a Superfund Site Was Cleaned
The case centers on Cotter Corp and the Superfund site at Lincoln Park. A uranium processing mill opened there in 1958 and processed uranium until about five years ago. The liquid waste that included radioactive material was dumped into 11 unlined ponds and when groundwater was found to be contaminated in 1984 it was declared a Superfund site. The state allowed the contamination to continue even after the site went to Superfund status, according to this report in the online edition of the Denver Post.
Toxic plumes are now moving beneath Cañon City and the Arkansas River. To top it off, trichloroethylene has reached 360 times the federal health limits in the groundwater. The impoundment area covers 157 acres and is divided into two unequal parts. The closed section has about 2 million cubic yards of waste. The newer section also has 2 million yards of waste but is only about half full. As the mill is decommissioned another 90,000 gallons of sludge, containing mostly kerosene, will be added to the second.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the new additions to the impoundment area won't make the groundwater more contaminated because of underground barriers. The Citizens Against Toxic Water, and others, have asked for the courts to review the processes and decisions that have been made over the years about this Superfund site.