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Sodium cyanide shipments through Huerfano County on hold

HUERFANO — A Nevada chemical firm, Cyanco, has moth-balled a proposal to ship liquid sodium cyanide through Walsenburg and La Veta. The plan proposed shipping the chemical by both rail and tanker trucks to a transfer station in Blanca, which is located in the San Luis Valley. Sodium cyanide, a highly toxic substance, is used to leach gold from ore and must undergo strict safety measures for both use and transport. In an interview with Bob Warriner, who serves as vice president for sales and marketing for Cyanco, he stated, “At the initial meeting in Blanca people pointed out some valuable information regarding the topography of the proposed route. No one thing was a leading factor but some things made sense. We are now looking at other sites that are more industrial.” Warriner said his firm is not yet ready to disclose those sites but they are further north. In a press release, dated February 12, Warriner said, “Cyanco thanks the more than 200 community residents who attended our informational meeting on Tuesday, February 16, about Cyanco’s proposed transloading terminal southwest of Blanca, Colorado. “We listened to the concerns they expressed. Cyanco is voluntarily withdrawing its re-zoning

application filed with Costilla County, and recommends that the planning commission’s public hearing scheduled for March 9th should be postponed at this time.” Area residents showed up to both learn about and express their concerns for a proposed transfer station to be built in Blanca. A variety of issues were raised. In a World Journal interview with Warriner last week, he said that Cyanco was unaware of recent train derailments occurring both west of La Veta and in Walsenburg. That concern was also brought up at the meeting in Blanca. “Since then we have done more research,” said Warriner. Cyanco had applied for rezoning of the land southwest of Blanca to allow for the construction of the transfer station. The proposed route would have trains travel through Walsenburg and La Veta over the Sangre de Cristos to Blanca, would then off-load the cyanide to tanker trucks which would return eastward over La Veta Pass on Hwy 160 before heading north on I-25 to Colorado Springs. From there, the trucks would deliver the cyanide to a gold mine in Cripple Creek. For many attending the meeting in Blanca, which included at least four La Veta area residents, the back and forth nature of the proposed routes seemed odd. According to Warriner, the firm had previously considered three other sites outside of the San Luis Valley, but they lacked space needed for the trucks to turn around. Warriner said Cynaco’s goal is always to be transparent and to listen to community input and concerns, adding that if the firm plans on coming back to this region, they will notify the media and the public.