Town files to appeal on state permit for Lucky Jack Mine

Can go to court if needed

The Crested Butte Town Council voted Monday to join with Gunnison County and the High Country Citizens’ Alliance to appeal a recently issued industrial discharge permit for the Lucky Jack Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant.


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“We’ve worked three years on this discharge permit with HCCA and we want to ensure the permit meets our expectations,” explained Crested Butte town attorney John Belkin.
Belkin said the three entities want to have some guarantee that the wastewater treatment plant, currently operated by Lucky Jack mine proponent U.S. Energy Corp, remains in operation no matter what happens to the mine.
At a meeting on August 19, the county commissioners said there were two matters of concern: the financial security to operate the plant if the “present or future owners saw the need to walk away from it,” and security for the people if there were a failure in the structure.
“I think this truly is about the health and safety of community and it is our duty to ensure that health and safety of the community,” said commissioner Paula Swenson.
The plant removes metals from the Keystone Mine discharge before it goes into Coal Creek, which feeds the town of Crested Butte’s drinking water supply. It is estimated that it costs about a million dollars a year to operate the plant.
According to mine spokesperson Perry Anderson, it would have the capacity to operate unattended for 10 to 13 days before it would start to overflow.
“We had hoped there would be some requirement in there to ensure operation if things didn’t work well. We should have some assurance that it would continue operation if the operator fell on hard times, but also if something mechanical failed,” said county commissioner Jim Starr, adding that he had heard the plant could only operate for a matter of hours, and at most a day, unattended.
The Town Council agreed with Belkin to file a request with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Commission for a Formal Adjudicatory Hearing. Belkin said if the request is denied, the town could go to District Court to address the matter.

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