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EPA conducts emergency clean up at Yerington, Nev. mine

Release Date: 04/27/2006
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano ( – 415-947-4307 (desk) or 415-760-5421 (cell) Tom Dunkelman 775-721-4712 (cell)

Work to cap sulfide tailings will prevent further spread of contamination

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 04/27/2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting soil capping work at the Anaconda Mine site to prevent contaminated dust from blowing offsite.

Photo of front loaders moving earth at Yerington Mine. Work began in early April to move clean soil from areas of the mine to build a soil cap over a 100 acre area contaminated with sulfide tailings. This work is considered time critical to ensure contaminated tailings do not spread further at the mine site or off the property.

“The sulfide tailings were considered an imminent and substantial threat requiring immediate action” said Tom Dunkleman, the EPA’s Superfund on-scene coordinator for the Pacific Southwest region. “Work is proceeding smoothly and we are confident we will complete the cap on schedule.”

Water trucks are run continuously to reduce dust during the work and air monitors have been set up around the work area to ensure dust is kept to a minimum. In total, 8 basins within the 100 acre area will be capped.

The capping work consists of using bulldozers to push vat leach tailings material from adjacent areas of the mine site onto the sulfides tailings. One excavator is being used to load three 35-ton dump trucks with the cover material, which is placed over the sulfides tails and spread by the bulldozers.

A February action memo initiated by the EPA’s Superfund cleanup manager, Jim Sickles, requested the EPA’s emergency response group perform the work to eliminate the environmental and health threat from the sulfide tailings area. The tailings work is the second phase of response activity at the site. In February the EPA removed 119 PCB containing electrical transformers from the facility, disposing them at the Clean Harbors hazardous waste facility in Coffeyville, Kans.

To date, cost of the emergency clean up work is approximately $600,000.

Originally known at the Empire Nevada Mine, the site began operation around 1918. In 1953, Anaconda Minerals Company acquired and began operating the site. In 1977, Atlantic Richfield Company acquired Anaconda and assumed its operations. In June 1978, Atlantic Richfield terminated operations and in 1982, Atlantic Richfield sold its interests in the private lands within the site to Don Tibbals, a local resident, who subsequently sold his interests with the exception of the Weed Heights community to Arimetco, Inc. the current owner.

Arimetco operated a copper recovery operation from existing ore heaps within the site from 1989 to November 1999. Arimetco has terminated operations at the site and is currently managed under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Tucson, Ariz.