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Sagging retaining walls threatening the river

Daily Staff Writer
NWS Fish Shock1 BH 4-2 Vail Daily/Bret Hartman Fish Shocking volunteers and members of Colorado Division of Wildlife tread their way through a railroad tunnel towards the mine at Belden.
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While the quality of the water in the Eagle River below the Eagle Mine has hugely improved since the mine spill in the mid-1980s, river watchers fear the problems there aren’t over.

By Cliff Thompson

Daily Staff Writer



While the quality of the water in the Eagle River below the Eagle Mine has hugely improved since the mine spill in the mid-1980s, river watchers fear the problems there aren’t over.

Above the mine there are several steep hillsides full of waste rock from mining activity over the last 135 years that have been restrained by a trio of wood-cribbing retaining walls that are about to give way.



Those retaining walls weren’t part of the EPA’s Superfund cleanup of the mine because they were outside the boundary of the work, said Caroline Bradford of the Eagle River Watershed Council.

What, exactly, those retaining walls are holding up, isn’t known, but it soon will be, Bradford said. Students from Colorado State University are completing an assessment of the Eagle River and one of the things they’re analyzing is what material is being restrained by the retaining wall and what harm it presents to the river.

“These rock piles never were owned by (mine owner) Viacom,” Bradford said. “Those rock piles are one of the highest priorities in the watershed.”



Bradford said one of the jobs of the scientists making the assessment is to determine what it would cost to stabilize the retaining walls.


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