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Superfund Program Implements the Recovery Act

Summitville Mine

Del Norte, Colorado

Site Description
The Summitville Mine site covers approximately 1,200 acres in the San Juan Mountains, in an area about 25 miles south of Del Norte, CO.  At an elevation of 11,500 feet above sea level, the site is situated south of Wightman Fork, a tributary of the Alamosa River, about two miles east of the Continental Divide.  The historic town of Summitville is to the site’s north on the other side of Wightman Fork.  The chemicals of concern are heavy metals (copper, cadmium, manganese, zinc, lead, nickel, aluminum, iron).  Human exposure to these contaminants is limited, since no one lives within two miles of the site, and the site’s ground water is not used for drinking.  However, ecological impacts from site contaminants have had a considerable impact on the Alamosa River system below Summitville, which cannot currently support aquatic life.

Cleanup Activities to Date
EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List in 1994, but EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment initiated several interim actions beginning in 1992.  These actions included:  removing waste rock piles and filling mine pits; site-wide reclamation and revegetation; plugging underground mine entrances; expanding the water runoff holding ponds; and operating an on-site water treatment plant.  In addition to ongoing operation and maintenance of the site, current activities include improvements to the Wightman Fork Diversion, the Summitville Dam Impoundment and spillway channel, and the installation of Micro-Hydro-Power to reduce the site’s dependence on line energy power. 

Recovery Act Project Activity
EPA will use the $17 million in Recovery Act funds to construct the Summitville water treatment plant. Designed to treat 2.3 million gallons of acid mine drainage per day, the treatment system will prevent heavy metal loads from the site from entering the Wightman Fork and the Alamosa River . The plant's construction is the final long-term cleanup activity planned at the site and will lead to achievement of the site-wide construction completion milestone ahead of schedule.

FY2011 highlights include:

  • At the Summitville Mine Superfund site, construction was completed on the new water treatment plant in September 2011. The new water treatment plant was designed to remove high metals concentrations from acid mine drainage originating at the site. On August 31, 2011, more than 100 people attended a public open house celebrating the final phase of a decade-long cleanup at the Summitville Mine Superfund Site.

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