The US Environmental Protection Agency has filed a lawsuit against Park City’s last operating mining company and the company that acquired it – for failing to respond to EPA’s request for a status update on the mine tailing cleanup and restoration work the companies agreed to do.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Untied Park City Mines and the company that acquired the mine company, Talisker Finance.
The complaint alleges that the Mine Company agreed in 2007 to pay to clean up mine tailings – near Richardson Flat - where a tailings repository is located– at the junction of US 40 and state highway 248, as well as at other sites along Lower Silver Creek and a site in Park City – the Prospector Drain. All four sites are contaminated with arsenic and lead, remnants of the former mining operations. The EPA belies the contaminants are not secure and could be released from their locations.
In 2007, an agreement was finalized for United Park to pay for the removal and restoration of more than 27-hundred acres at the Richardson Flat Superfund site. Known as Operable Unit 1 – that work is largely complete.
A second agreement in 2014 required cleanup on Operable Unit 2, which encompasses about 1900-acres along Lower Silver Creek and Unit 3 about 836 acres east of Park City also along Silver Creek. Operable Unit 4, known as Prospector Drain is also subject to another administrative order.
The primary concerns are the sites effects on surface water quality in the area, and the potential for people and wildlife to come into direct contact with the contaminated soils.
A press release issued in 2014, touted the agreement that United Park City Mines had entered into with multiple federal and state agencies to do the clean-up and restoration work. Calling it a unique partnership, the streamlined process was to save time and money to result in more resources available to restore the areas impacted by mining activities in the watershed.
Twice in 2016, the EPA asked the mine company for information on its ability to pay for or perform the cleanup. But neither company has responded to EPA’s requests, which prompted the lawsuit.
In addition to asking for the companies to comply with the EPA’s requests, Federal law says the companies are liable for civil penalties almost $55-thousand dollars a day per day of non-compliance.
KPCW’s has been unable to reach United Park City Mines Company for comment – their phone numbers are no longer in service.
EPA spokesman Rich Mylott only reiterated what the lawsuit spells out, adding that the two companies have 20 days to respond to the complaint.
Phil Bondurant, the Environmental Health Director for the Summit County Health Department told KPCW the EPA doesn’t keep the health department in the loop and the county has zero jurisdiction in EPA cleanup matters.