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U.S. EPA awards grant to community group to assist in Clear Lake Superfund cleanup
Release Date: 3/26/2004
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297
SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $50,000 to the Clear Lake Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) as part of the ongoing Superfund cleanup at the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine in Clearlake Oaks, California.
The private group’s mission is to make sure the community understands the EPA’s cleanup at the mine; to inform the community about the hazards and environmental impacts of the site; to keep them informed about the progress of the cleanup; to make sure they have a voice in the process; and to streamline the clean up. The $50,000 will be used by CLEAN to hire a technical consultant who will review EPA documents and advise the group and community members about important issues related to the cleanup so that they can have input in the cleanup decision making process.
"Technical assistance grants are crucial to any Superfund cleanup effort," said Keith Takata, head of the Superfund Division at the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Office in San Francisco. "The level of involvement we expect that the community will be able to have as a result of this grant will ensure the Sulphur Bank Mine will be cleaned up in the best possible manner."
The mine is located on the shore of Clear Lake and began operations in the mid-1800s. Initially, the sulfur was used to manufacture gun powder, but miners later discovered mercury which was used in gold extraction. The mine was closed in 1957, leaving 2 million cubic yards of production wastes and a pit 90 feet deep that began filling with acidic runoff from the mining and nearby hydrothermal spring waters.
During the 1970s and 1980s, it was discovered that catfish and bass in Clear Lake had elevated levels of mercury. The site was added to the National Priorities List in 1990. EPA has implemented several measures to begin controlling discharges from the site, and is currently studying the feasibility of implementing additional controls.
For more information, contact the Clear Lake Environmental Action Network, P.O. Box 926, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423, (707) 998-0135, or visit their website at www.cleanlake.org.