Legacy eyeing Cotter sites
The Denver cleanup firm wants to take over a mill and a mine.
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.”