H.R. 3123: To direct the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, to remedy problems caused by a collapsed drainage tunnel in Leadville, Colorado, and for other purposes

H.R. 3123

To direct the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, to remedy problems caused by a collapsed drainage tunnel in Leadville, Colorado, and for other purposes

Date
September 8, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 3123 is being considered on the floor under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) on July 10, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which took no official action.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3123 would require the Secretary of Interior, acting through the Bureau of Water Reclamation, to implement the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2003 decision for treatment of water from the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel in Colorado.

The bill specifically directs the Secretary of the Interior to implement a remedy for the site by treating water behind any blockage or bulkhead in the Tunnel, and to maintain the mine pool behind such blockage or bulkhead at a level that precludes surface runoff and minimizes the potential for Tunnel failure due to excessive water pressure.

This legislation also requires the Secretary of the Interior to take steps to repair and maintain the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel structural integrity.

 

Background

The Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel was created in the 19th century to carry drainage water from mines in Leadville, Colorado, to the Arkansas River. However, the mines in the area have long-since been abandoned and now contain some toxic materials. In addition, the idle drainage tunnels have filled with water in a number of areas and resulted in increased concerns of collapses or spills of the toxic water. Currently, the Bureau of Reclamation is responsible for the tunnel and the water within. However, since 1992, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has participated and assisted in cleaning up water in the area around the mines, which was designated a Superfund site in 1992. In 2003, the EPA released a remedy for cleaning the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel site to ease concerns that a blockage in the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel could give way, releasing a flood of water and debris that has built up in the tunnel. H.R. 3123 would require the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the implementation of the suggested remedy.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate of H.R. 3123 was not yet available as of press time.