What should I do if I am being affected by mining on a property next to me?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What should I do if I am being affected by mining on a property next to me?

I have a friend who’s family owns and lives on property. The landowner who owns the property above him has been mining a foundation, and leaves the tailings scattered throughout his property. These tailings have a high content of uranium, and, as I have heard, this uranium is getting into his and his families drinking water. He had their water tested, and the water has 300x the EPA limit for uranium. This has been a huge problem for him.

Asked on February 17, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Contact the federal EPA and the state department of health: if the tailings or residue exceed permitted levels, one or the other agency may take action (e.g. start fining him, until he cleans it up).
2) You *may* be able to bring a lawsuit based on "nuisance" to force him to clean matters up--it depends on your neighborhood (e.g. population density), zoning, and what is considered a reasonable use in that area. In suburban areas, leaving contaminated tailings around would very likely be considrered an unreasonable use, and a court could order him to clean it up; in a more rural or lower density area, with more separation between neighbors, it may be acceptable, however. You should consult with a real estate attorney about this option.
3) If you have to clean up or remediate your water or bring in water from elsewhere, if you can show it was because of his actions, you may be able to sue him for the cost to do so, since it is a result of his deliberate action(s) in leaving contaminated tailings around, and/or his negligence/carelessness in creating a contaminated situation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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