Commissioners hear plans for Anvil Points cleanup
The Garfield County Commissioners heard plans for the cleanup of spent oil shale at the former Anvil Points Research Facility Monday. The Bureau of Land Management and its environmental consultant, Ecology and Environment Inc., of Boulder, presented three potential remediation plans.Anvil Points, a research project for mining and processing oil shale, was built in 1947 and decommissioned in 1986. It is located north of Rulison and about 1.5 miles northwest of Garfield County’s Anvil Points landfill. Anvil Points was formerly part of the Naval Oil Shale Reserve.The BLM acquired Anvil Points when the NOSR was transferred from the Department of Energy to the BLM in the late 1990s. Congress anticipated the need for the cleanup. They included a provision in the transfer legislation that no royalties from leasing the land will be disbursed in Colorado until the federal government reimburses the cost of environmental restoration of Naval Oil Shale Reserves 1 and 3, and the cost of previous gas development in NOSR 3 by the DOE, to the BLM. The BLM has estimated the total cost of the cleanup and compensation of costs of past gas development could reach $40 million.Ecology and Environment Inc. was hired by the BLM to investigate the shale pile, determine if it contains contaminants and recommend a course of remedial action. Field work was completed in 2004, and a draft Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis report was issued in January.The cleanup will be paid by federal mineral royalties from natural-gas development on the Roan Plateau, royalties that otherwise would have been divided up between the federal government and jurisdictions in Colorado, including local governments.Because it is a federal land-management document, the public is invited to comment on it until April 16. For information on commenting, go to the Glenwood Springs BLM Web site, http://www.co.blm.gov/gsra/gshome.htm, or call 947-2800.Spent shale from the Anvil Points retort processing plant was tipped over into West Sharrard Gulch. In 2000, the Colorado Department of Public Health investigated the site and recommended that the shale pile be removed because it contained inorganic contaminants that are sloughing into West Sharrard Creek, an intermittent tributary of the Colorado River.Ecology and Environment Inc. sampled the spent shale and found high concentrations of arsenic as well as lower concentrations of other heavy metals including aluminum, copper, mercury, vanadium and silver. Arsenic in the shale pile exceeds standards set by the state health department.In designing a remedial action for the pile, Ecology and Environment’s goal was to “reduce arsenic exposure and prevent its migration” through the air and surface and ground water, said spokesman Cary S. Hudson.Remediation plans involve stabilization of the pile or removal either to a site at Anvil Points or elsewhere. Stabilization would involve compacting and covering the pile and revegetating it, at an estimated cost of $4.28 million. The second plan, which Ecology and Environment endorsed, is removing the pile and burying it on the Anvil Points site, for around $4.2 million. Hudson said the pile could be buried at the site of the retort plant, a good solution because “it’s already been disturbed, and there’s enough room.”Finally, the pile could be removed and trucked or shipped by rail to an off-site landfill. Ecology and Environment estimated the cost for removal to four landfills including Garfield County, Montrose and two landfills in Denver. The cost for removal to the Garfield County landfill is estimated at $8.76 million.All plans call for monitoring the pile for five to 30 years.The shale pile is only a first step in the cleanup of the entire Anvil Points site. The BLM also plans to investigate potential environmental hazards associated with the former Anvil Points town site, retort plant, materials storage yard, mine workings and water treatment plant.The BLM will choose the preferred alternative when the report is finalized, which should happen in May, said Jon McClurg, of Ecology and Environment. The shale pile cleanup is expected to be completed in 2007.With renewed interest in developing oil shale as oil prices soar, Garfield County Commissioner Larry McCown asked if there is a chance Anvil Points could be recommissioned.”I’ve not heard of any interest at least for that specific site,” said Steve Bennett, the BLM associate field manager in Glenwood Springs.McCown also asked if the “funds that are held hostage” would be released, either in total or in part, after the shale pile cleanup is completed. Bennett said he’d heard of no provision for its release until the total project is finished. “I think it would require some legislation,” Bennett said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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