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Colo. Officials Demand Cotter Corp. Clean Up Defunct Scwartzwalder Mine Uranium Leak

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SCHWARTZWALDER MINE URANIUM LEAK
AP File

Colo. state mining regulators and Denver Water officials are demanding that Cotter Corp. clean up the defunct Schwartzwalder mine that is leaking uranium into a creek that flows into a Denver drinking-water reservoir, The Associated Press reports.

Cotter has been dodging the clean up for several years, even filing a lawsuit in 2010 against mining regulators regarding the Schwartzwalder clean up, but The Denver Post reports that last Friday a Denver District Court judge ruled that Colo. mining officials were correct to order the de-watering of the 2,000-foot mine shaft and impose penalties upon Cotter. Cotter posted a $1.2 million bond to aid in clean up efforts of the Schwartzwalder mine in Jefferson County should the company should walk away from the leak site, but officials say the bond is insufficient.

Uranium contamination from the closed mine reaches Ralston Creek, just north of Golden, which feeds into Ralston Reservoir -- a reservoir that supplies drinking water for 1.3 million Denver metro residents.

Testing of the Ralston Creek waters have yielded high contamination results for years -- back in 2010, Fox31 reported that groundwater near the creek contained uranium levels 1,000 times higher than human health standards permit, but Cotter has continued to defy clean up orders.

The Department of Health says that the water supplies for Denver Water, Arvada and North Table Mountain are safe even though the contamination exceeds safety standards, according to CBSDenver.

According to the Denver Water website, uranium is removed in Denver Water's treatment process. However, they also state that because of the high concentrations of uranium from the mine found at Ralston Creek, they have stepped up extra precautionary measures. Denver Water is also evaluating avaliable legal options to ensure that the polluter is the party responsible for the clean up.

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