Red Arrow Mine updates planned
Suckla 'reassured' after meeting with fed, state officials
Sam Green/Cortez Journal
State and federal officials are slated to meet with local residents later this month regarding potential health hazards and remediation efforts in connection to the now-closed Red Arrow Mine.
After meeting with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety on Friday, Montezuma County Commissioner Larry Don Suckla said he's confident officials would be able to remedy the situation.
"It was a very reassuring meeting," he said.
Suckla said EPA and DRMS officials have plans to hold two informational summits Sept. 30. The meeting with county commissioners is scheduled for 3 p.m., but a time for the meeting at Town Hall in Mancos has yet to be finalized.
"The EPA will share their soil sample findings, and the DRMS will give us a time frame for remediation," he added.
Officials reassured Suckla that pilings from the Red Arrow Mine found at sites in and around Mancos contained arsenic in its natural form. Suckla said officials told him the potential hazardous form of arsenic occurs only when ore is milled, which none of the sites included.
"Officials said there is no health hazard," he added, "but just because they told us that, doesn't mean its true."
Despite the reassurances, Suckla said county commissioners remain committed to ensuring that public safety is maintained and proper cleanup measures are undertaken.
"The commissioners will stay on top of this," he added. "We will not drop the ball."
Mancos Town Administrator Andrea Phillips said she believes state and federal officials are properly moving forward.
"After hearing more from the EPA and DRMS folks, it sounds like the next steps will be removing and cleaning up the soil around the two off-site tailings piles that were noted in the report," she said. "They hope to have this done by November."
EPA officials collected soil samples from Red Arrow Mine pilings on both a private ranch and the Western Excelsior manufacturing facility, both outside of Mancos town limits.
Remediation plans at a milling site rented by Red Arrow Mine operator Craig Luikko, however, remain questionable. DRMS officials shut down the rental property site on West Grand Avenue and the Red Arrow mining site some nine miles north of Mancos in July, subsequently fining Luikko more than $335,000 for numerous violations.