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EPA completes cleanup of mine waste in Superior, Montana

Release Date: 12/03/2013
Contact Information: Lisa McClain-Vanderpool 303-312-6077; Kristine Edwards 406-457-5021

27,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils removed from residential properties and airport

Contacts: Lisa McClain-Vanderpool 303-312-6077; Kristine Edwards 406-457-5021

(Denver, Colo. – December 3, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the completed cleanup of contaminated mining waste within the town of Superior that began on September 8, 2013. As part of this project, mining waste containing heavy metals including antimony, lead and arsenic that exceeded human health thresholds was removed from 38 residential properties and the Mineral County Airport and placed at a repository in Wood Gulch.

“EPA appreciates the support we received from the people of Superior and the Mineral County community in getting this work completed quickly,” said Kristine Edwards, remedial project manager. “We look forward to making additional progress in addressing mine tailings along Flat Creek beginning next year.”

During the course of the cleanup, EPA removed approximately 4,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils from yards and driveways and more than 23,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils from a temporary repository at the Mineral County airport. The contamination was the result of historic mining activity at the Iron Mountain Mine and Mill. The mine and mill operated from 1909 to 1930 and again from 1947 to 1953 producing silver, gold, lead, copper and zinc ores.

EPA will monitor the results of the cleanup to ensure the safety of the area before the State of Montana assumes long-term responsibility for maintenance of the cleanup and the Wood Gulch repository. Mineral County will also maintain an electronic filing system which will facilitate access to cleanup and sampling records and assist in future property transactions.

EPA conducted three earlier removal actions in Superior, in 2002, 2010 and 2011 in order to address immediate risk to human health. These actions focused on removing soils contaminated with heavy metals from several high-risk areas, including residential and commercial properties, the high school track, fairgrounds and rodeo arena. While these soils were initially placed at the Mineral County Airport, their presence limited airport expansion plans. In 2011, EPA constructed a permanent repository in Wood Gulch to handle this waste and additional waste from nearby cleanup actions.

EPA is also working with the U.S. Forest Service, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Montana Environmental Trust Group to assure that streamside mine tailings along Flat Creek, and contamination at the Iron Mountain mine and mill site, are cleaned up in a coordinated and timely manner.

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