The issue of the severe contamination of the Red Arrow Mine site and its milling site just outside the Town of Mancos is a very serious matter. However, I must confess that I laughed when I read that “state mine regulators” are expecting an EPA clean-up to be completed by the end of the year.” I seriously doubt that the EPA can even write a report detailing the remediation work that needs to be done on these sites by the end of the year. To expect that the necessary work will be done before 2016, or even 2020, is wishful thinking. Of course, I sincerely hope that I will be proven wrong about this estimate.
Another aspect of this matter is the fact that earlier this year, the county commissioners adamantly refused to accept any funds from the state or the EPA to even assess any county sites for possible environmental contamination, much less to remediate any contamination if it were to be found. They insisted that these funds be given to other governmental entities outside of Montezuma County. Based on this past decision, it seems unlikely that the county commissioners will actually do anything to help remediate this “brownfield” site in Mancos for the benefit of the public or the owner of the site, Mr. Boyd. In addition, merely levying a fine on the bankrupt corporation responsible would seem to be a pointless exercise done for show only.
Historically, Montezuma County has done only occasional and very minimal enforcement of its regulations and mitigation conditions. Since all business people operating in the county know and expect that, it’s not surprising that the occasional bad operators, who exist in every economic activity, would take advantage of that environment.
I wish that I could say that I am hopeful that this situation will change. In all honesty, I do not believe that it will.