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EPA to oversee soil cleanup at four homes near Arizona mine

Release Date: 05/15/2006
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248,

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 05/15/2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin oversight of a clean up in early June at four residential properties in Dewey-Humboldt, Ariz., where elevated levels of arsenic were detected in soil at homes near the Iron King Mine Site.

Under the settlement with Ironite Products, Inc., the company will excavate soils at each residence and replace it with clean soil.

“This soil removal will prevent direct human contact with the arsenic-contaminated soil, and make it safe for families and pets to play in their yards,” said Keith Takata, the EPA’s Superfund Director for the Pacific Southwest region. “I am pleased that Ironite has stepped up to do the work.”

In August, the EPA sampled soil in the town, where the agency believed rain and floods likely washed tailings from the Iron King Mine into the Chaparral Gulch and ultimately onto the properties.

Previous investigations of the mine and nearby smelter indicated arsenic levels in the area may be elevated. The EPA analyzed the samples for arsenic and calculated exposure to determine the amount a person may be exposed to in the yard over an extended period of time, and found elevated levels that exceed what is naturally found in the area by more than 3 times at each of the four properties. The EPA determined that soil removal was necessary to prevent further exposure.

Arsenic in mine tailings can cause health problems in humans and pets through inhalation or ingestion. Young children are more at risk than adults from exposure to arsenic. Depending on the total amount taken in by the body over time, throat and lung irritation, including asthma, may occur. Long-term exposure to ingested arsenic may result in nausea, vomiting, circulatory disorders, peripheral neuropathy, and skin disorders including hyperpigmentation and cancers

The Chaparral Gulch is an intermittent stream that passes underneath Highway 69.