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The Animas River has long been polluted by run-off from old mines throughout the San Juan Mountains. At a meeting with county commissioners, the EPA announced plans to “plug” two of those mines in 2015 to slow the flow of heavy metals into Cement Creek and the Animas River.

The mines in question are the Red and Bonita mines. Troublingly, the high level of heavy-metal laden discharge from these mines began after another source of pollution – the American Tunnel – was plugged in a similar way.  In the case of the American Tunnel, plugging the outlet caused water to back-up and find alternative routes to the surface – namely the Red and Bonita mines.

So will this be a solution to the problem of heavy metals in the Animas?  Probably not. But it may help in the short to medium term.

The Alliance will continue to monitor mine cleanup developments in the months to come.  Expect more community dialogue about the efficacy of this pollution “solution.”

Here’s a link to Herald coverage of the developments and a follow-up Herald editorial on the topic.



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