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Calif. mine ordered to remove lead-contaminated soil, dust
Release Date: 06/30/2006
Contact Information: Leo Kay 415-947-4307
SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ordered Newmont USA Limited and Donner Mine Camp Inc. to conduct an emergency removal of lead at the abandoned Zeibright Mine in Nevada County, Calif.
Contaminated soil and dust must be removed in and around the Assay Building which is on the Donner Mine Camp Inc. area of the property. The Assay Building has been used as a mining museum accessible by both adults and children attending the camp. In addition, children may be exposed to soils surrounding the Assay Building.
“All too often, abandoned mines have left behind a toxic legacy that now threatens the health of the people and natural resources of the state,” said Keith Takata, EPA’s Superfund Director for the Pacific Southwest Region. “Removing lead-contaminated soil and dust from this site will protect public health and allow continued access to this historic mine.”
The EPA conducted initial screening sampling in June 2004 and returned in August 2005 to sample potential hot spots identified during the 2004 sampling. Following the winter snow and spring melt, the EPA ordered the responsible parties to move in and conduct this removal action.
Lead, arsenic and iron contaminated soil was found around the Assay Building and on a downhill slope where the soil washed down through water runoff and erosion. The very fine-grained soil poses a risk to the public when dry and dusty. When disturbed, dust inside the Assay Building poses a breathing and ingestion risk, especially to visiting children.
The EPA’s order requires Newmont USA and Donner Mine Camp to perform the following:
- Immediately restrict access to the area around the Assay Building
- Excavate soil around the Assay Building containing high lead levels in excess of residential standard for lead in soils
- Clean accessible surfaces in the Assay Building of lead-contaminated dust, and permanently prohibit public access to the building
- Properly ship off contaminated soil to a licensed hazardous waste facility
Donner Mine Camp, Inc. is the current owner of the Assay Building and surrounding area. Empire Star Mines Co. was a previous owner and operator of the property, including the nearby Zeibright Mine. Newmont USA Limited is the successor to Empire Star Mines Co.