There are tens of thousands of abandoned mines in the U.S. Many of these mines emit acid mine drainage laced with heavy metals which can contaminate the water quality of rivers and streams. In a number of instances, Good Samaritans are willing to conduct mine reclamation at these sites if they have environmental liability protection from the Clean Water Act (and perhaps the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). This liability protection which could encourage mine cleanups can only occur through federal legislation.
Animas River Stakeholders Group
This website is designed to inform and educate people about a legal issue that severely hampers mine remediation and reclamation at inactive and abandoned mine sites. Since 1994, when the issue first arose, most efforts to pass so called "Good Samaritan Legislation" have focused on hardrock mines which are situated mostly in the western United States. The targeted mine sites are limited to those where whoever may be liable for cleaning up the site is either long gone or doesn’t have the financial resources to address the problem.
While the need for Good Samaritan legislation is well recognized, there are a number of opinions as to how broad the liability protections should be, who they should apply to, and to what sites they should be applied. So far there has not been enough of a consensus on these issues to allow federal legislation to move forward. In the meantime, thousands of mines continue to disgorge their contaminates with little expectations that anything will be done.
view ARSG Comments on the EPA’s Good Sam Memo December 12, 2012