December 2, 2015 / Modified dec 2, 2015 2:49 p.m.

Arizona Abandoned Mine Cleanup Could Cost Billions

Group opposing state takeover of federal lands says cleanup costs would shift to states.

mine waste spot On Aug. 5 2015 the EPA was investigating contamination of this old Colorado mine when it unexpectedly triggered a release of 3 million gallons of toxic waste.



A group that opposes efforts of states to take over federal lands says cleaning up abandoned mines in Arizona could cost up to $5 billion.

The Center for Western Priorities wrote a report that shows there are more than 100,000 abandoned mines in the country’s western states. The cost to clean up those sites is more than $21 billion, the report said.

Cleanup is necessary to avoid another situation such as the contaminated water that spilled from the Gold King Mine in Colorado, the center said in a news release.

The Center for Western Priorities opposes efforts by states to take over federal lands, an effort that Arizona politicians have suggested in years past.

In Arizona, more than 24,000 abandoned mines exist on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management property. If Arizona took over those lands, it would be responsible for cleanup costs of $2 billion to $5 billion, the center said.

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