June 14, 2012--Tipton visits old, leaky mines (Durango Herald)

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, toured an old mining area in the San Juan Mountains on Wednesday to familiarize himself with issues involving toxic mine drainage. Tipton spent three hours near Gladstone, now a ghost town, where four abandoned mines are spewing up to 800 gallons a minute of toxic waste into the Cement Creek, a tributary to the Animas River. Waste from abandoned mines – iron, zinc, cadmium, copper, aluminum and lead – have compromised water quality in the Animas as far as Bakers Bridge. Tipton’s guides were Peter Butler and Steve Fearn of the Animas River Stakeholders Group, a coalition of individuals, groups and agencies interested in cleaning the pollution. “It’s good to get on-site to get your own visual impact,” Tipton said. “I get ideas on how we can work collaboratively to solve problems and identify possible obstacles to achieving the goal.” A major hindrance to tackling toxic-waste projects is the lack of a good Samaritan legal shield, Fearn and Butler said. Groups that take on projects are fair game for liability lawsuits, they said.

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