Gold Hill gains ground
Air-quality monitoring passes 1st test
Gold Hill Mesa development leader Robert Willard has repeatedly said he wants the 214-acre project to be a positive addition
to the Westside.
So he was pleased this week at results showing that air-quality requirements were not exceeded for lead or arsenic at any time during the three months after grading started in mid-March on the former site of a gold mill.
The success occurred, he pointed out, despite the grading occurring during the windiest part of the year and digging “deeper into the tailings than at any other part of the project.”
Because of the lead and arsenic in the gold tailings, the property was once on the Environmen-tal Protection Agency (EPA) list of possible hazardous-waste cleanup sites. Documents from about 1950 - shortly after the mill closed - talk about fine tailings dust blowing around the Westside before Golden Cycles, the milling company, was pressured into putting a cap of dirt over the stuff. The site was removed from the EPA list in 1994 and is staying off because of the Voluntary Cleanup Plan (VCUP) which the Gold Hill Mesa developers have worked out with the Colorado Health Department, Willard said.
But even the VCUP did not require the level of dust management that Gold Hill has instituted, he said. The chief control measure is keeping the ground wet. This has been accomplished through the intense use of watering trucks - so intense that “I'm three times over my budget on water,” Willard said.
When the wind exceeds 30 mph, the grading work is stopped.
To keep track of dust levels, developers installed three monitoring devices at the site's perimeters, located in line with the typically prevailing winds so as “to get the worst case scenario,” as Willard put it. It was the data from these monitors that gave the project its clean bill of air health for the first three months.
Only once did the contaminant level spike to a point near the quality limits, and that was during a wind gust of 58 mph in March, he said.
Monitoring is planned to continue through the life of the project, with reports becoming public knowledge on a regular basis. If at any point a problem is found, the applicable procedures will be changed as soon as possible, according to Willard.
“We're going above and beyond the VCUP,” he said. “We're really going the extra mile here.”
Westside Pioneer article