By: Duane Craig
Beginning in April 2010, the state started telling Cotter to clean up one of its defunct mining properties, according to this report. Then, about a year ago in September, Cotter said 'no' to those orders and refused to clean up the Schwartzwalder mine. State regulators alleged the mine was leaking uranium-tainted water into Denver's water supply. Mine water contained uranium at 310 parts per billion, 100 times greater than acceptable levels. Then, in a subsequent act of disobedience, Cotter refused to pay the fines -- about $55,000 at the time.
Next, Cotter sued the state, claiming that regulators didn't have enough evidence to tell it to clean up its messes and that the contaminated water in the mine was not getting into the ground water or into nearby creeks that drain into Lake Arvada.
In June 2011, Cotter was still refusing to obey, and by September, uranium had tainted the water supplies of three water suppliers, Denver Water, Arvada and North Table Mountain, according to this report. Those water supplies serve about 1.3 million people in Colorado. Levels of the radioactive material are low, according to environmental officials, and the water is still okay to drink.