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Colorado mining company agrees to pay $1.6 million over Gold King Mine disaster

A judge will decide whether to approve the settlement.

DENVER — Colorado has approved a $1.6 million settlement with Sunnyside Gold Corp., resolving the company’s alleged liability for damages caused by the Environmental Protection Agency’s inadvertent release of more than 3 million gallons of acidic mine waste from the Gold King Mine on Aug. 5, 2015.

The settlement agreement, announced Monday by the state attorney general, will be filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, where a judge will decide whether to approve the settlement.

Contractors working on an EPA mine waste drainage remediation project at the Gold King Mine, now owned by the federal government and lying more than a mile from SGC’s Sunnyside mine, breached the plug in the lowest-level tunnel, resulting in pressurized acidic water contaminated with heavy metals to burst out of the tunnel.

The waste flooded into Cement Creek, high above the mountain town of Silverton. The bright yellow-orange wastewater flowed into the Animas River and caused panicked reactions by communities downstream as far away as New Mexico and Utah. It also caused communities to shut down drinking water plants and irrigation diversions.

EPA scientists said the contamination was mostly iron and that other metals in the water posed no human health hazard.

> Read the full story at denvergazette.com.

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