EPA Crew Triggered a Waste Spill at Standard Mine above Crested Butte

Wastewater pool below the Standard Mine

EPA Crew Triggered a Waste Spill at Standard Mine above Crested Butte

On Tuesday, October 6th an EPA Crew Triggered a Waste Spill at Standard Mine above Crested Butte. It has been reported that approximately 2,000 gallons of wastewater spilled from Standard Mine into Elk Creek, which leads to Coal Creek and eventually to the Crested Butte water supply. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the spill occurred while crew members were drilling a new mine opening. A vacuum truck was being used to siphon the wastewater, but at some point, the truck dipped too low- causing the spill. A representative from the Environmental Protection Agency said that “Subsequent investigation found no visible plume or signs of significant impacts in downstream locations”.

U.S. Representative Scott Tipton, responded.  “They told us things were going to be different. Now we have a spill. … We’ve apparently got a real challenge with the EPA, not only with notification but their accountability and their ability to adequately execute these types of cleanup projects,” Tipton said. “They’ve got resources. They’re the ones in charge of the program. And they’ve had two spills in my district alone. Is there a better way to approach this?” The Standard Mine is one of approximately 230 inactive mines in Colorado which are believed to be leaking heavy metals.  

Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep addressed the issue saying “I want to make sure that the EPA’s work is being done in a diligent manner and that their contractors are following the right procedures. We’d like to see these types of events not happen.” The Coal Creek Watershed Coalition will also be involved in determining the impact of the spill.