Thursday, June 10, 2010

EPA administrator struck by 'magnitude' of mine site

Comment:  If you can shock an EPA dude, well it is very Bad!

By Keith Trout
News Editor
May 28, 2010

In a press availability session Monday shortly after a tour of the Yerington/Anaconda mine site, the regional administrator of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 based in San Francisco, said the magnitude of the cleanup for the local mine really struck him as he toured the site.

EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld was appointed as the Region 9 (includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, Pacific southwest and over 140 Tribal Nations besides Nevada) administrator last fall by President Barack Obama, taking over the position in January.

"It was important to discuss potential funding that would clean up and restore the site if it's added to the National Priorities List.

Cleaning up the Anaconda mine site is absolutely necessary to protect the community, environment and local agriculture producers. I look forward to continuing to work with Jared and will make every effort to ensure full cleanup and restoration of the site."

Blumenfeld said his main purpose for the visit was to understand the site and its issues, adding the EPA hopes to increase collaboration and partnership because the site "demands a solution."

Blumenfeld also made an appearance for a ceremonial grant check award to Lyon County and the cities of Yerington and Fernley, as they've received a $400,000 EPA Brownfields grant.

After his tour, Blumenfeld said, "The first thing that strikes you when you get here (see mine) is just the magnitude of the site."

"You could hold a penny in your hand and say, 'This much mountain was turned upside down to create copper,'" he continued, adding that even for someone who'd spent 20 years in the environmental community, it's hard to imagine the scale of the earth-moving and work done at the site.

The second thing that struck him, Blumenfeld said, was "the proximity of the homes, tribes and agriculture" to the mine.

He said many other mining sites are not so close to populated areas, but, "Right here, we have Weed Heights," he said, pointing from the mine site's pit lake overlook.

Blumenfeld also called the view from the overlook a "million-dollar view," saying it would cost millions for the cleanup.

Regarding NPL listing, Blumenfeld seemed to favor it, noting the mine has two different areas; that there is no funding available for portion that was mined by now bankrupt Arimetco; and that NPL Superfund money could fund that part of the cleanup, while Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARC) is funding other cleanup work.

Regarding a $40 million price tag the EPA has placed on the Arimetco cleanup cost, Blumenfeld said more work would be done with the state on that figure, and they expected a final cost figure by the end of this year.

He also suggested cleanup could start quickly with NPL listing and spoke favorably of the work EPA has done thus far, adding, however, that it's "not enough for the (local) people."

Blumenfeld said the community wants the site cleaned up and "they want it done yesterday," but characterization work is necessary before resources can be expended.

Blumenfeld mentioned the EPA has already spent $4.5 million on the cleanup site and noted a 10 percent state match is required for Superfund monies, which would be about $4 million if the $40 cleanup price for the Arimetco portion is correct.

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