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Manila Lode

Site Contact:
Paul Peronard
On-Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
Montezuma, CO 80435

Story Map

Click on the image below to view an interactive Story Map detailing EPA's progress at the Site. Interactive Story Map.

Manila Lode is a former mine/mill operation just outside the town of Montezuma, Colorado that ran from the 1870s into the 1910s during the Colorado Silver Boom. Although the mineral processing stopped operation well over a hundred years ago, the remnants of the operation still impact the area today.

At the site today, two large contiguous waste rock and mine tailing piles exist and present heavy metal contamination threats to hikers/recreationists, the Upper Snake River and the residence built adjacent to the site. In a site soil sampling event in 2018, Trout Unlimited reported presence of aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc. Lead concentrations in the pile range from 2,000 to 20,000 mg/kg. A subsequent Trout Unlimited water sampling event in 2019 found that much of the heavy metal contamination was reaching the Upper Snake River adjacent to the site.

Exposure routes to heavy metal contamination from the pile include a county greenspace trail traversing the site, a residence adjacent to the pile, and year round rainwater run off/snow melt draining through the pile and to the Snake River via a wetland.

In April and May of 2021, an EPA removal team conducted a site assessment and made observations consistent with the Trout Unlimited findings and deemed the site to be in need of a removal action due to the threat to both the Upper Snake and the nearby residents.

In July of 2021 an EPA removal team was dispatched to the site to conduct removal action that will include five main objectives:

  1. Temporarily reroute storm water drainage around the waste pile to allow for waste piles to be reworked and a permanent drainage path to be constructed without the inflow of water.
  2. Rework and regrade the waste piles to eliminate void spaces within the piles and to eliminate the steep slopes currently present. This will minimize water infiltration through the piles as well as mitigate erosion.
  3. Construct a permanent lined drainage channel to take water from the Toledo Tunnel across the waste site to the wetland area without allowing direct contact with waste materials.
  4. Install an evapo-transpiration cover over the waste piles and establish proper vegetation to promote stabilization and mitigate direct contact with the metal laden rock.
  5. Provide institutional controls, such as deed restriction or an environmental covenant.

For additional information, visit the Notices section.