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Release Date: 10/21/1999
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S. EPA, 415/744-2201

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed today listing Leviathan Mine in Alpine County as a federal Superfund site, a move that could help facilitate the cleanup of the inactive sulfur mine located on the eastern slope of the Sierra.

     "This listing will bring federal money and resources to clean up a site that has been compromising ecosystems in California, Nevada and Washoe Tribal Lands for too long," said Keith Takata, director of the EPA's Superfund division in San Francisco.  "We plan to apply the experience that we have gained in working on other mining sites throughout the state in developing an effective cleanup plan for Leviathan."

     For the past 40 years, acid mine drainage from the site has killed off aquatic life in Leviathan and Bryant creeks downstream of the mine -- including the Lahontan cutthroat trout, a federally listed endangered species.  The East Fork Carson River, which is 10 miles downstream of the site, is also threatened by site runoff.

     State and federal agencies have tried several approaches to clean up the site since the mid- '80s, however, drainage from the site continues to pollute the streams.

     The mine operated from 1863 through 1872 extracting copper sulfate for processing silver ore in the Comstock mining region of Nevada.  Mining operations ceased due to the high sulfur and low copper content of the ore.  In 1954, the Anaconda Company transformed the underground workings into an open pit mine to extract the sulfur ore.  Approximately 22 million tons of overburden and waste rock were removed to get to the ore and placed into and along the channels of Leviathan and Aspen Creeks.  The mine has not operated since 1962.

     On Wednesday, Douglas County, Nevada commissioners voted unanimously to support the EPA's listing of the site.  The Washoe Tribe had formally expressed its strong support for listing in a letter sent to the U.S. EPA in March.

     Today's proposed listing begins a public comment period for the proposed listing that will run until Dec. 22, 1999.  To receive a listing package, contact Carolyn Douglas at (415)744-2343.  

     Comments may be sent to:

Carolyn Douglas
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SFD-5)
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

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