Cotter sues state for abusing discretion by ordering uranium mine cleanup

First the state in May respectfully asked Cotter Corp. to clean up an old uranium mine in Jefferson County with the potential to contaminate the Denver water supply. Then last month Cotter “respectfully declined” to pay a $55,000 fine for failing to clean up the now-defunct Schwartzwalder mine.

Now, according to the Denver Post, Cotter has filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court that “accuses Colorado’s Mined Lands Reclamation Board of abusing its discretion when it ordered Cotter to pump out and treat uranium-tainted water.”

No word on whether the lawsuit was respectfully filed, as Cotter officials reportedly did not return calls requesting comment.

The Schwartzwalder mine case should not be confused with the Cotter Mill near Cañon City, where the processing facility that’s actually an EPA Superfund cleanup site is the subject of another lawsuit. Except the mine and mill are owned by the same company, which is a subsidiary of San Diego-based General Atomics.

In the Cotter Mill case, the grassroots Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste (CCATW) is suing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for allegedly violating a new state law requiring greater transparency in the uranium processing industry.

As previously reported the Colorado Independent, Cotter officials disagreed with state estimates that it would cost $43.7 million to clean up the Cotter Mill. CDPHE officials reportedly agreed to just $20.2 million in cleanup costs, but the CCATW argues the negotiation should have been much more public.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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