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Cleveland Mill Cleanup Celebrated in Silver City, New Mexico

Release Date: 7/16/1999
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

    Federal, state and local officials gathered with citizens and business leaders to celebrate the cleanup of the former Cleveland Mill site just north of Silver City, New Mexico, this afternoon.

     Region 6 Superfund Division Director Myron Knudson represented the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the 1 p.m. ceremony. He stressed the partnership that was forged among the surrounding community, government agencies and private industries to successfully clean the property.

     "When unusually heavy rainfall threatened to spread contamination from this site into area drinking water sources, EPA acted quickly to protect public health. I want to highlight the roles of the State of New Mexico and the participating companies, Mining Remedial Recovery Co., Bayard Mining Corp. and Viacom International Inc., who were most cooperative in cleaning the site. Everyone has been committed to making this cleanup a success," Knudson said.

      New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Peter Maggiore agreed saying, "This is a victory for the environment. By working collaboratively, the state, the feds and the private sector can do great things."

     About 170,000 cubic yards of tailings and sediments were excavated, treated and contained under a multilayer cap. This has eliminated the threat of rain runoff and erosion spreading contaminants from the tailings and sediments into a shallow aquifer.

     Ground and surface water will continue to be monitored to ensure that the pollutants remain contained. Deed restrictions will limit access to the 2.8-acre capped area and prevent breaks in the protective barrier. All other areas are now safe for residential development.

     The waste was the environmental legacy of  lead, zinc and copper mining during the first two decades of this century and contains a variety of heavy metals. Heavy metals can collect in body tissues  and can create a variety of health problems, particularly nervous system disorders such as learning difficulties in children.

     Mining Remedial Recovery Co. President Mike Baum said, "The participating companies were pleased with the cooperation received from Silver City, Grant County and all the local people who were involved or interested in the Cleveland Mill project. We also appreciated the NMED and EPA working with us to achieve the common goal of site remediation. The reclamation of Cleveland Mill was a great success and we are proud of the results of this project."