EPA Sues United Park City Mines

Mar 28, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency has filed suit in U.S. District Court against United Park City Mines. The suit is asking United Park to pay the costs, past and future, to clean-up the tailings contamination left by Park City’s historic mine activity.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Salt Lake federal court, estimates that the clean-up costs owed to the EPA, so far, come to a total of nearly $850,000 plus interest. The suit said those costs are likely to increase.

United Park is being sued, as the successor in ownership to the mine companies that operated from the late 1800’s to 1982, generating contaminated tailings along the Silver Creek watershed.

The litigation refers to the entire watershed as Richardson Flat but specifies four units. First is the actual Flat, the tailings depository to the southeast of Quinn’s Junction.

Unit Two includes portions of tailings deposits along Silver Creek, running by Highway 40. Unit Three, called The Middle Reach, runs along Highway 248, through the pass into Park City, and includes the Silver Maple Claims, owned by the Bureau of Land Management. The suit also alleges that United Park owes nearly $47,000 to the BLM for clean-up.

The lawsuit said that tailings along the Silver Creek corridor reach depths of at least two to three feet, and as much as nine feet deep.

In the early 2000’s United Park agreed, under an Administrative Order, to conduct a remedial investigation and study of Unit One, the Flat location. In 2005, a Record of Decision specified the remedy selected by the EPA.

The lawsuit said that United Park has completed most of the remedial action specified in that plan.

But the suit says that United Park has failed to meet its obligations under the Order for Unit Two and Three that calls for an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis. It claimed that the mining company failed to adequately detail items like the contamination levels of soil and water and their relation to the surrounding hydrology.

In 2017, the EPA issued a Notice of Work Takeover. That also assessed a $50,000 fine against United park.

The lawsuit is filed under the national so-called CERCLA law, asserting that there have been releases, or threatened releases, of hazardous substances at the Richardson Flat Superfund site.