EPA set to present Red Arrow report

Mancos Town Hall forum planned for Dec. 10

Town Hall will host a public forum with EPA officials next week to discuss the agency's assessment of illegal gold milling operations in Mancos.

The 6 p.m. public forum is held on Dec. 10.

The Environmental Protection Agency took soil samples from the Red Arrow milling site on Grand Avenue just outside of town limits in early October. The public forum is held to discuss the EPA's assessment of those tests.

Preliminary sampling of the Red Arrow milling site revealed higher than acceptable levels of arsenic and mercury. State mining officials shut the milling site down in June, charging owner Craig Luiko with six environmental violations. The illegal mill operated for at least six months with a rudimentary ventilation system.

Red Arrow's company website stated the mill was expected to process some 7,000 tons of ore in its first year at a cost of $400 per ounce of gold. The company had planned to construct a mill able to process a minimum of 100 tons of ore per day.

Experts from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety believe the risk of contamination in humans from the site is very low, despite finding more than 1,300 cubic yards of polluted solid materials and more than 2,500 gallons of contaminated liquid ingredients at the milling site.

Permits and bonding for the first 3,500-foot deep core drill hole into the Red Arrow Dome were approved by the state in 2009, the company's website reveals.

Red Arrow projected it would process one ounce of gold per ton of ore, yielding over 408,500 ounces of gold. Nearly $450 million in gross revenues were forecasts, according to the website.