Public hearing for Breck mine waste plan is Tuesday |

Public hearing for Breck mine waste plan is Tuesday

BOB BERWYNsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge residents will have yet another chance to offer input on a controversial mine waste cleanup at today’s town council meeting, with a hearing scheduled for 7:30 p.m.The Forest Service and EPA want to haul several thousand tons of rock tainted with high concentrations of lead and arsenic from the national forest Claimjumper parcel, near Airport Road, to a long-term storage site in French Gulch, where it would be capped with clean earth and monitored.Federal officials have touted the cleanup as a “win-win” that would improve environmental conditions at both locations, but residents of neighborhoods in French Gulch have expressed concern about the plan.Along with increased truck traffic, which would add up to several hundred trips over a 10-day period, some people living in the area aren’t convinced that the new material won’t worsen an already serious water quality problem in French Gulch. And based on the high concentrations of lead in the Claimjumper material – deemed to pose a human health risk with prolonged exposure – they aren’t sure that the plan is in the best interest of the community.EPA experts have said that consolidating and capping the waste at the French Gulch site would reduce any exposure risks. By covering the tainted rocks with clean earth and re-vegetating the area, it’s less likely the poisonous heavy metals will leach out of the rocks and into the water.The homeowners at the Claim-jumper condos are on record as supporting the plan, but not everyone there agrees.”I have been involved with this issue for more than a decade and there is no danger with the tailings being left where they are … There are no guarantees that the Forest Service and Claimjumper Condos jointly owned tailings will provide a clean site after the tailings are trucked off,” Albert Stowell wrote in a recent e-mail. “As one of the owners of the proposed clean up site I am very much opposed to disturbing these tailings and the unforeseen dangers in doing so,” said Stowell, who owns one of the Claimjumper condos.Along with the public hearing, town officials expect to hear results from an independent review of the Forest Service and EPA studies on the cleanup.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at

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