Legacy eye­ing Cot­ter sites

The Den­ver cleanup firm wants to take over a mill and a mine.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kara Ma­son

Den­ver-based Colorado Legacy Land is ne­go­ti­at­ing to take over Cot­ter Corp.’s Cañon City Su­per­fund site, com­plete the cleanup of the de­funct ura­nium mill and man­age the prop­erty in the fu­ture.

The com­pany also is ne­go­ti­at­ing for Cot­ter’s Schwartzwalder Mine in Jef­fer­son County, which has been blamed for un­healthy lev­els of ura­nium in Ral­ston Creek west of Den­ver.

Cot­ter, a sub­sidiary of San Diego-based de­fense con­trac­tor Gen­eral Atomics, this week wrote the Colorado Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health and En­vi­ron­ment say­ing it wants to trans­fer its ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial li­censes at Cot­ter and Schwartzwalder to Colorado Legacy Land.

Thurs­day evening, the three man­ag­ing di­rec­tors of Colorado Legacy Land at­tended the monthly Com­mu­nity Ad­vi­sory Group in Cañon City.

The 15-mem­ber group, known as CAG, was con­vened by Gov. John Hick­en­looper’s of­fice in 2013 to help guide cleanup at the mill, which in 1984 was de­clared a Su­per­fund en­vi­ron­men­tal disas­ter.

Colorado Legacy Land is made up of two com­pa­nies, Legacy Land Ste­ward­ship and Alexco, which spe­cial­izes in clean­ing up con­tam­i­nated sites.

Colorado Legacy Land was formed specif­i­cally to ac­quire the Cot­ter land, Legacy Land Ste­ward­ship pres­i­dent Eric Wil­liams said.

“This is what we do,” he said. “We do re­ally good, com­pli­cated cleanups.”

Alexco has worked on a num­ber of Su­per­fund sites, in­clud­ing the Gold King Mine site near Sil­ver­ton that re­leased toxic wa­ter turn­ing the An­i­mas River mus­tard yel­low in Au­gust 2015.

Some CAG mem­bers raised con­cerns about why a com­pany would want to take over the con­tam­i­nated land and where li­a­bil­ity will go, to which the Colorado Legacy Land di­rec­tors said that clean up is the pur­pose of their busi­ness.

“We’re not look­ing to use le­gal pro­tec­tions to avoid clean up,” said Paul Newman of Colorado Legacy Land. “We’re look­ing to do the clean up.”

A lot of com­pa­nies don’t want the re­spon­si­bil­ity of a con­tam­i­nated site, Wil­liams added.

Colorado Legacy Land hopes to have Cot­ter’s ra­dioac­tive ma­te­ri­als li­censes by the fall.

“In many re­spects, we’re step­ping into (Cot­ter’s) shoes,” Newman said. “We want as seamless a tran­si­tion as pos­si­ble.”

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