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EPA lodges consent decree for Wellington-Oro Superfund site

Release Date: 6/1/2005
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      Denver -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Colorado have negotiated a consent decree with B&B Mines, Inc., to resolve alleged Superfund liability at the Wellington-Oro Mine in the Golden Horseshoe area, east of Breckenridge in unincorporated Summit County. The consent degree was lodged Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Denver. Notice of the proposed settlement will be published in the Federal Register and a 30-day public comment period will begin.

      Under the terms of the agreement, B&B Mines will pay $718,432 to reimburse EPA for costs incurred in addressing contamination at the Wellington-Oro site. The consent decree also includes a prospective purchaser agreement with the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County who are purchasing the Wellington-Oro site, along with surrounding lands that include the Jessie Mine and Mill and the IXL Royal Tiger Mine.

      The town and county will undertake cleanup of the Jessie Mine and Mill and the IXL Royal Tiger Mine under the State of Colorado's Voluntary Cleanup Program. The purchase and the cleanup work will be funded through their open-space programs and they will work together to preserve and protect the 1,800 acre acquisition as open space. The town and county will also build and operate a water treatment plant to address acid mine drainage from the Wellington-Oro site to improve water quality in the Blue River. The consent decree also resolves state and federal natural resource damage claims.

      EPA estimates the total value of the B&B settlement will exceed $7 million.

      In the late 1880s, the Wellington-Oro mine complex was the largest mining operation in the Golden Horseshoe valley. Lode mining recovered lead-zinc-silver sulfide and gold ores from an extensive network of tunnels and adits originating on the steep valley sides. Large floating dredge boats were used to placer-mine the valley floor for gold.

      EPA and the State of Colorado began investigations at the site in the late 1980s to determine the nature and extent of contamination. In 1999, EPA issued an administrative order compelling B&B to cleanup surface wastes at the site, consolidating and capping roaster fines, mill tailings and waste rock.

      More information on the Wellington-Oro site can be found at: