Aspen to celebrate `delisting’
The city is inviting all local residents to a party later this month, to celebrate the “delisting” of the Smuggler Mountain Superfund site.
The site, which included the Smuggler Mobile Home Park and other areas at the base of Smuggler Mountain, was officially “delisted” on Sept. 23, according to a written statement issued by Tom Dunlop of the Pitkin County Environmental Health Department.
The delisting brings to an end a communitywide conflict that started in 1983, when a researcher’s investigation into the mine tailings and other debris left over from Aspen’s silver mining heyday led to the conclusion that the neighborhood was polluted with heavy minerals and other hazardous wastes that posed a threat to the health and welfare of the citizenry.
The Environmental Protection Agency began making plans for “remediation” of the site, meaning the uprooting of the mobile home park and the scraping of up to four feet of topsoil from roughly 110 acres to remove the contaminated soils.
Dunlop said he was “frustrated” by the plan and by the initial lack of interest or resistance from the community. But ultimately, residents of the mobile home park objected to the plans and formed the Smuggler Caucus, which by the late 1980s was armed with enough contradictory information about the Superfund listing that the city and county governments joined them in a battle with the EPA.
What followed was a communitywide uprising against the federal agency, and a virtual war that ended with Aspen being one of the few communities to halt a Superfund remediation plan in its tracks.
Through a series of legal skirmishes, scientific tests and studies by a panel of experts, it was at last determined that the tailings apparently do not pose an immediate or critical threat to human health, and the EPA backed off.
The party celebrating the delisting will take place on Thursday morning, Nov. 18, beginning with what is being billed as an “EPA official public ceremony,” at eleven o’clock at the Molly Gibson Park (once included in the Superfund cleanup site). The celebration will then move to the Common Grounds Meeting Room, 101 Independence Place, starting at noon.
Food and beverages will be available.
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RFTA has a bit of a paradox on its hands. The public bus agency doesn’t anticipate it will haul as many passengers this winter but it needs more buses and drivers than ever. Only 15 people are allowed per bus, so that saps resources.