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Release Date: 8/20/1999
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-2201

     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting public comment on a plan to begin building water diversions at the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine Superfund Site near Clearlake Oaks in an effort to prevent contaminated sediments and water from the site from flowing into Clear Lake.

     The public comment period will run from Aug. 20 through Sept. 19.  The EPA plans to begin work on the surface water diversion project in October.  The final cleanup plan for the site will be determined by the end of 2000.

     "This action will serve as a crucial step in getting this site down the home stretch for cleanup," said EPA Project Manager Ellen Manges. "Sulphur Bank is a very complex site.  It has unique features like active geothermal vents and deep mine shafts that present quite a challenge when trying to develop a cleanup plan.  After site work is done this fall we will be able to begin looking at realistic options for cleaning up this site."

  The primary goals of  the proposed surface water diversions are to:

 * Prevent water that may flow onto the site from mixing with mine wastes and becoming contaminated.
 * Prevent water from surrounding areas from flowing into the contaminated water in Herman Pit (located on the site), and decrease the likelihood that Herman Pit will overflow into Clear Lake, especially during heavy winter rains.
 * Prevent potentially contaminated water from flowing off  site and direct it back into Herman Pit.

     The water diversion construction is an interim step in the process of cleaning up the site.  The final field investigations at the site will be completed this fall.  The EPA will then propose a cleanup plan that will be released for public comments.  When the proposed plan is released, the EPA will hold a meeting to explain the plan and receive comments.

     The proposed work is described and evaluated in a report called an "engineering evaluation/cost analysis."  Copies of the report are available for review at the Lake County Library in Lakeport or at the Redbud Library in Clearlake.

     Based on existing data, the EPA believes that the only public health threat associated with the mine site comes from people eating more fish caught from the lake than the state advises.  People face no health threat from mercury when swimming or boating on the lake.

Comments on the report may be sent via mail, fax, or email to:
     Ellen Manges, Remedial Project Manager
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
     75 Hawthorne Street (SFD-7-2)
     San Francisco, CA   94105-3901