By Associated Press - Thursday, January 14, 2021

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to drill this summer into the collapsed entrance of a mine in Colorado that is at risk of a blowout.

Erosion at the Bandora Mine, which has not been used for decades, has caused dirt and rock to pile over it, the Durango Herald reported Thursday. An unknown amount of water is backed up behind the mine’s entrance and runs the risk of rupturing.

“It could be a real mess,” said Bill Simon, co-founder of the now-defunct Animas River Stakeholders Group. “There could be serious injury.”

While the EPA said there is no indication the mine will rupture any time soon, the risk to the surrounding community and the thousands of campers that visit the South Mineral Creek area every summer makes the initiative necessary.

The Bandora Mine produced gold and silver on and off from 1890 to 1940 and is located about 9 miles (14 kilometers) west of Silverton.

The EPA in 2015 drilled too far into a loose pile of dirt and rocks that covered the entrance of the Gold King Mine, which caused a blowout that released 3 million gallons (11 million liters) of water laced with heavy metals into the Animas River.

The Bandora Mine is one of the largest loaders of heavy metals into Mineral Creek, a tributary of the Animas River.

Parker said the EPA hopes to complete the project by this summer, but operations could last until 2022.

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