David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
General Atomics Subsidiary Cotter Corp. Keeps Making Messes
San Diego-based General Atomics, best known for its Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, continues to take heat over uranium mining and milling operations conducted by its subsidiary Cotter Corp. in the state of Colorado.
This week Denver Water officials demanded that the company clean up its defunct Schwartzwalder Mine near Golden, Colorado. The state says the mine is leaking uranium into a nearby creek that feeds into a reservoir that serves as a drinking water supply for Denver.
The company is already responsible for cleanup at an EPA Superfund site in Cañon City, where it formerly operated a uranium mill. We reported on the site over a year ago, but according to the Colorado Independent the firm hadn’t made significant progress as of this August, and was actually trying to avoid testing radioactivity levels in a holding pond on the site because “wooden pallets used to cross the pond are sinking into the toxic mud.”
While Cotter has posted a $1.2 million bond for cleanup at Schwartzwalder, experts say this sum is inadequate to complete the task. Last month the company refused to pay a $55,000 fine for allowing uranium pollution at 1,200 times Colorado’s permissible level into a stream near the milling operation. They’ve instead elected to sue the state for “abusing its discretion” in ordering the company to clean up the pollution its shuttered operations continue to cause.