The Canon City Mill site located just outside of Canon City, Colorado is owned and operated by Cotter Corporation, a Colorado based uranium mining group.
The mill operated continuously from 1958 until 1979, and has operated intermittently since that time.
Before 1980, Cotter Corporation disposed of tailings and other wastes from uranium processing into unlined bonds. Contaminants such as molybdenum, uranium, and uranium daughter products leached into the groundwater and migrated to Lincoln Park and nearby local wells.
As a result of high contamination levels, the US EPA placed the Cotter mill on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1984.
Since decommissioning and reclamation efforts at the mill began, Cotter Corporation has been cited for numerous labor and environmental violations and has continuously shown negligence of EPA standards and requirements.
Among the several labor violations and contamination spills, Cotter Corporation pleaded guilty in March 2008 for its role in the poisoning deaths of migratory birds at the mill. Approximately 40 geese were killed after coming into contact with the solvent in the pond.
Previously stating that the mill would eventually reopen, in September 2010, Cotter made a statement telling regulators they would discontinue testing radon emissions on the site because it is no longer an active facility subject to regulation.
The battle continues, as many environmental groups question Cotter Corporation’s commitment to environmental protection. A citizens group filed a lawsuit in September 2010 accusing Colorado regulators of failing to require Cotter Corp. to set aside enough money to clean up its uranium mill in Canon city. The department estimated costs of at least $43 million, while Cotter set aside only $20.2 million.