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Eagle Mine Superfund Site

Water Quality in the Eagle River below the Eagle Mine is impaired by high levels of zinc, copper, and cadmium, which impair aquatic life. Currently the River from Redcliff to the confluence with Gore Creek and through the Eagle Mine Site supports a Brown Trout population which is somewhat impaired by concentrations of these heavy metals. Water quality in this reach does not meet the table value standards for Cold Water Aquatic life (Class 1) set by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission with regard to these heavy metals. As a result, sculpin do not inhabit the Eagle River from Belden downstream to the confluence with Gore Creek. Very few rainbow trout are found in this same river reach.

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On June 9, 2008 the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission held a Public Rulemaking Hearing to reconsider water quality standards in the Colorado River basin, including the Eagle River. The water quality standards adopted by the Commission will be a pertinent issue in the 5 year review of Superfund Site activities.In the 5 year Superfund site review, CBS, as a responsible party, and the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division will attempt to arrive at an agreement that defines future cleanup that will be required. In these negotiations, the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division seeks further cleanup activities that are expected to result in a reduction of zinc loading to the River of between 37 and 41 pounds per day. Current zinc loading is approximately 120 pounds per day, thus the proposed further action will likely cause a 33% reduction.

While this level of reduction will certainly cause an improved aquatic environment and healthier brown trout population, it is not expected that water quality will be improved to the extent necessary for the Eagle River to support a healthy rainbow trout population in the reach between the Eagle Mine and Gore Creek.

For a simple explanation of how mining activities affect water quality, read a paper prepared by Wendy Naugle of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for school children, found here.

Download the slide presentation prepared by John Wooding Ph.D. on how zinc concentrations in the River affect fish population and health.

On July 29, 2008, EPA, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, and ERWC Eagle Mine Ltd. conducted a tour of the Eagle MIne Superfund site. A breafing document for the tour prepared by Warren Smith of CDPHE is attached as "Eagle Mine Superfund Site Tour, July 29, 2008"

The Eagle Mine Annual Report - 2008 prepared for CBS Operations Inc by NewFields provides a summary of environmental data collected during 2008. The report also summarizes design, construction, inspection, operation, maintence, and community relations activities conducted in 2008.

A preliminary Ground Water and Surface Water Monitoring Plan for 2009 describes the monitoring which is anticipated to be conducted to further identify the sources of metals pollution to the Eagle River. Data collected will likely contribute to the identification of future remedial cleanup activities.

The Statement of Work for 2009 provides a plan for analysis of alternative remedial actions for reducing the loading of zinc and other heavy metals to the Eagle River.

The Eagle Mine Site - Belden Groundwater Extraction System Performance Report provides information on how an experimental groundwater extraction has performed. Movement of groundwater into the stream is beleived to be a signifiacnt source of the loading of heavy metals, particularly following snowmelt at the mine site.