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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would like to know whether an old mining conglomerate will keep its financial commitments to clean up hazardous tailings near Silver Creek outside Park City.
The EPA has filed suit against both United Park City Mines and an affiliated company, Talisker Finance LLC. According to the complaint, more than a year has lapsed since the EPA sought proof the companies would be able to pay for a series of remedial actions they agreed to finance.
According to the complaint, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on the EPA's behalf, United Park City Mines agreed in 2007 to pay to clean up a tailings impoundment located southeast of the junction of U.S. Highway 40 and Utah Highway 248. In 2014, the company also agreed to pay for the analysis and clean-up of two other tailings sites that include portions of Lower Silver Creek northeast of Highway 40, and a downstream section of Silver Creek known as the Middle Reach.
All three sites, as well as a fourth called Prospector Drain, were found to be contaminated with arsenic and lead, remnants of historic operation of mines owned by United Park City Mines. The EPA believes these contaminants are not secure and could be released from the site, according to the complaint.
Attempts to reached officials with United Park City Mines and Talisker Finance LLC were unsuccessful.
In an email, a spokesman with the EPA's Region 8 office in Denver did not offer further details or answer questions regarding key elements of the agency's lawsuit.
According to the suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, the EPA requested information on the mining company's ability to pay for the clean-up operations in January 2016. But, the suit says the company "failed to fully and adequately comply" with that and subsequent requests for financial information.
The EPA has asked the court to order the companies to release the information and to charge the company a civil penalty of up to $55,000 for each day it doesn't comply.