Exploring Summitville Part 3

A long-distance view of the Summitville Mine.

DEL NORTE — As a precursor to the Summitville Mine site tour this coming weekend, the Rio Grande County Commissioners discussed a five year Plan Review of the location during a meeting on Wednesday morning.

Commissioners Gene Glover, Suzanne Bothell, and John Noffsker conversed with Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as well as contract personnel involved in the project.

  Summitville’s recent history spans some 20-30 years. There have often been mixed accounts of how the area came to reach the status that it is at today. Laura Dixon, Community Involvement and Communications Manager at CDPHE noted that the purpose of the 5- year review is to evaluate the success of the reclamation measures.  The Commissioners indicated from their perspective that the site had not provided any long-term benefits for the county. The initial focus of the project was to address Cyanide leakage left by Galactic Mining. While over 300 million dollars have already accrued in expenses related to the project, the cleanup effort continues today with a seemingly indefinite future. 

The Commissioners further noted that the site’s abandonment in the early 1990s’ had a significant socioeconomic impact on the county. Since that time, there have been proposals brought forward for the future use of the site. However, none of them have come to fruition. The county also does not get any revenue from the site.  Commissioner Glover noted that he sees a need for all parties involved to “work together” to present a uniform and accurate set of information about the status of the site.

Commissioner Noffsker noted that having realistic expectations for the sites’ future would be important going forward. There was also a consensus that communication on both sides will be crucial to addressing public perceptions and the future of Summitville. Those present seem hopeful that some degree of closure for the project will eventually come. It is unclear what that might look like at this time.

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