Sunnyside neutralized and regraded this area that once was a tailings impoundment in the Las Animas Watershed.

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Justice Department, the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture and the state of Colorado announced a settlement with Sunnyside Gold Corp. and its Canadian parent Kinross Gold Corp. resolving federal and state liability related to the Bonita Peak Mining District (BPMD) Superfund Site. The BPMD Superfund Site is located near Silverton, Colorado, and includes the Gold King mine and many other abandoned mines. If entered by the court, this agreement could provide for the continued cleanup of mining-related contamination within the Upper Animas Watershed.

Under the agreement, Sunnyside Gold and Kinross Gold will together pay $45 million to the United States and Colorado and the United States will dismiss its claims against the mining companies. The United States will also contribute $45 million to the continuing cleanup at the BPMD Superfund Site and the mining companies will dismiss its claims against the United States.

“This settlement addresses the cleanup responsibility of the private mining companies and the federal government and ensures that site cleanup work will continue,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

“The Gold King spill is a vivid reminder of the dangers associated with the thousands of abandoned and unclaimed hard rock mines across the United States, particularly in the West,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau. Mining companies should be held accountable for these sites that put communities and tribal lands at risk of disastrous pollution.”

The Gold King spill was one of the worst mining-related environmental disasters in the United States and the EPA caused it. On August 5, 2015, Environmental Restoration, a contractor working on behalf of the EPA accidentally released 3 million gallons of water from the Gold King mine into the upper portions of Upper Animas Watershed. It was clear from the onset that former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy had no idea what was happening at the site. The agency and its contractor were unprepared for a worst-case scenario and, when they pierced a seal with a backhoe that day, they caused a blow-out that polluted waterways from Silverton to Lake Mead in Nevada.

The Sunnyside mine workings had no physical connection to the Gold King mine. Kinross and Sunnyside have completed substantial remediation work in the Upper Animas Watershed (see: