mine cleanup article and stupid language


Hugh Paxton’s Blog continues to admire Tanya Ishikawa. I had high hopes that she’d become an alternative to these ghastly processions of rich and entrenched families aiming at the Whitehouse. Burn the world Burning Bushes, Kennedys, Clintons…I wanted a Tanya Ishikawa there on the lawn in hiking boots and a Tanya agenda!

But Tanya has chosen to live a rather more genuine life. We have known each other for years and her ideals remain unchanged. Not inflexible, capable of change, but the bedrock is there. That’s unchanged. She’s sent me this.

I’d describe this as a horror story – in fact I’ll write a horror story about it! – dead ghost mines, leaking poisons, killing rivers with the greed and short sighted lust of the past. We get a Tanya on this and a“UWP’s remediation projects at three legacy mine sites in the Upper Uncompahgre Watershed address metals loading and acidic mine drainage to streams that do not meet beneficial uses for aquatic life, recreation, water supply or agriculture. Consequently they are on the EPA’s Clean Water Act’s list of impaired e waters,” explained Agnieszka Przeszlowska, UWP mine remediation project manager.

I’ve cut and pasted this section because it is pure Dalek! “Do not meet beneficial uses!” Also I can’t be bothered to write this Polish woman’s name. But the results are beneficial. And Tanya has helped saved rivers, or as the EPA seems to describe them “impaired waters!”

Does the EPA have any idea how much interest in cleaning up rivers it will inspire by using a language that is warped into jargon utterly alien to a normal person? Tanya’s helped us weave our way through this inhuman abuse of language and the end result is a success! Clean rivers. Nice work!

From: Tanya Ishikawa [mailto:office@tanyaishikawa.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 9:44 PM
To: Charles Paxton; paxton.bkk@gmail.com
Subject: mine cleanup article

Thought I would share another article with you (pasted below and attached in msword plus photo attachments):

Heavy metal pollution diverted from Uncompahgre River

By Tanya Ishikawa, Communications Coordinator, Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership

Ridgway, Colorado, U.S.A.–The Uncompahgre River should be running a little bit cleaner this fall after contaminated water flows from abandoned mines were remediated this summer. The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP), a nonprofit in Ouray County focused on river restoration and preservation, completed two mine remediation projects in close collaboration with Jeff Litteral, a project manager for Colorado’s Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.

Heavy metal pollution from abandoned mines in the San Juan Mountains are a major source of contaminants in the Uncompahgre. Though the river above Ridgway Reservoir is not used as a local drinking water source, it is an important agricultural, recreational, aquatic and wildlife resource. Water from the reservoir is also used for those purposes downstream as it runs through Montrose, Olathe and Delta, as well as for municipal water.

“UWP’s remediation projects at three legacy mine sites in the Upper Uncompahgre Watershed address metals loading and acidic mine drainage to streams that do not meet beneficial uses for aquatic life, recreation, water supply or agriculture. Consequently they are on the EPA’s Clean Water Act’s list of impaired waters,” explained Agnieszka Przeszlowska, UWP mine remediation project manager.

Funded by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment grants, UWP began cleanup efforts at three mines last year. The first task, completed in July and October 2014, was to collect surface water samples and river insects from the Upper Uncompahgre River. These samples will be compared to future samples taken after remediating the polluted flows to determine how much water quality improves.

The first site to be remediated was the Michael Breen Mine, where the polluted drainage from a collapsed mine entrance was flowing from the mine across Engineer Pass Road and into the Uncompahgre River. This high alpine portion of the river was found to contain toxic levels of cadmium, copper, zinc and manganese, which impair aquatic life.

UWP constructed a diversion ditch to re-route the mine discharge and reduce leaching of metals into the river in October 2014. Re-routing the water also eliminated pooling under the load-out structure, stopping destabilization of the structure. This August, a one-acre area adjacent to the diversion ditch and former drainage area was re-vegetated with a mix of native seeds, anchored by an early ground cover species, a soil amendment and aspen mulch. Chris Peltz of Silverton-based Research Services LLC assisted with design of re-vegetation prescriptions and installation.

The second completed remediation project was at Vernon Mine, where two draining mine entrances were leaching significant amounts of copper into Gray Copper Gulch. Besides the copper levels, this stream has been identified as having poor water quality due to iron and a low pH, which impair aquatic life.

This September, construction crews removed approximately 1,000 cubic yards of waste rock from the Gray Copper Gulch valley floor, and hauled it uphill to a repository in a flat area away from hillslope runoff and drainage areas. Two mine entrances were closed off and a small diversion ditch was constructed to redirect drainage from one entrance. Strategic portions of the area were also revegetated with a high alpine mix, soil amendments and aspen mulch.

The third project is at Atlas Mill, an abandoned mill off Camp Bird Road above Sneffels Creek. Mine tailings from legacy operations have been deposited in the creek’s floodplain, and erosion of the tailings and runoff during spring snowmelt contribute heavy metals, especially cadmium and zinc, to the stream, impairing aquatic life. UWP is collaborating with the operators of Ouray Silver Mine, Inc., which is the property owner of areas within the project, and consulting with Western Stream Works LLC on project design to minimize erosion of tailings in the floodplain. Project implementation is planned for summer 2016.

“We all remember the recent and dramatically visible Gold Mine spill of three million gallons of polluted water into the Animas River. Yet, every day hundreds of Colorado abandoned mines leak toxic heavy metals into our waterways – largely unnoticed and forgotten. UWP is proud to have the opportunity to partner with the State of Colorado, private mine owners and contractors, and other stakeholders to begin to tackle this problem one step at a time,” said UWP Board Member Scott Williams.


photo captions (same as photo file names)

Main waste rock pile at Vernon Mine before removal in July 2014

Main waste rock pile during removal at Vernon Mine in September 2015

Main waste rock after removal and re-vegetation at Vernon Mine in September 2015


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