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U.S. EPA reaches agreement with Nevada company over costs for mine waste clean up in Placer County

Release Date: 12/18/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that a Nevada company has agreed to repay the agency part of the money it spent to clean up mine waste from its property in Dutch Flat, Calif.

In an agreement finalized Wednesday, Desert Star Group, Inc. will sell the land and turn over 95 percent of the proceeds from the sale to the EPA. The property is the company's only asset.

Desert Star bought the Dutch Flat property -- which contained two abandoned mine tunnels, the Polar Star and the Southern Cross -- in 1979 however, the owner let it remain undeveloped.

Following a 1999 report by the U.S. Geological Survey indicating that mercury from sediments and tunnel drainage waters from Polar Star Tunnel were causing mercury contamination in the Bear River, which carries mercury to the Sacramento River and ultimately to San Francisco Bay, the EPA's emergency response branch stepped in and removed the waste. The EPA spent approximately $1.6 million to remove the waste.

"We want the tax payers to be reimbursed for the cost of cleaning up pollution to the maximum extent possible," said Dan Meer, chief of the Emergency Response and Planning Branch in the EPA's San Francisco office. "We are delighted that some of the cost of cleaning up this site will be offset by this settlement."

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