June 9, 2016 by John Nicholson
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and Cotter Corporation NSL have reached an agreement whereby Cotter will pay $957,604 (U.S.) for the past costs associated with the investigation of contamination from the company’s uranium mill at the Lincoln Park Superfund site near Cañon City, Colorado.
The payment in the agreement covers the costs for investigating the site that occurred between 2012 and 2014. In 2014, a separate agreement was made in which Cotter agreed to pay the U.S. EPA for clean-up costs going forward.
Under the 2014 agreement, Cotter agreed to clean-up the site to the point where it will be removed from the U.S. EPA’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 until 2006, when operations largely 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.
For more on the Lincoln Park site visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/lincoln-park.