Payment covers prior costs for uranium mill clean up in Colorado
Cotter Corp. NSL agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $957,604 in past costs for overseeing an investigation of contamination from the company’s uranium mill at the Lincoln Park Superfund site near Cañon City, Colo. The administrative settlement agreement will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.
The agreement requires Cotter to pay EPA for past oversight costs, incurred between 2012 and 2014, prior to a separate 2014 agreement in which Cotter agreed to pay EPA and state costs going forward. Both agreements were entered into under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Recovery Act, also known as the Superfund. All of the money paid to EPA will be placed in a special account and used to pay for any future costs at the site.
The 2014 agreement between Cotter, the state of Colorado and EPA also requires the company to produce a detailed evaluation of the cleanup work it has done and the status of any contamination that may remain in soil or groundwater at the site. EPA will review that information and determine any additional cleanup actions necessary to protect public health and the environment before the site can be removed from the agency’s National Priorities List of contaminated sites. Once the cleanup is finished, the site will be turned over to the U.S. Department of Energy for long-term care and monitoring.
Cotter produced uranium oxide, or yellowcake, at the mill in Fremont County from 1958 to 2006, when operations ceased. From 1958 to about 1979, tailings and other mill wastes were discharged into unlined impoundments or ponds. Mill and impoundment operations resulted in environmental contamination. Additionally, a flood in June 1965 caused the impoundments in the Old Ponds area to overflow into Sand Creek.
Cotter first began cleaning up its mill site in 1988 under a judicial consent decree and remedial action plan with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, which was approved by the U.S. District Court. Work under that decree is nearly finished.
EPA expects the administrative settlement to publish in the Federal Register within the next week, initiating a 30-day public comment period.
For more on the Lincoln Park site, visit the EPA website, which will be updated with information about public comment.