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San Luis Obispo, Calif. mine added to Superfund list

Release Date: 04/19/2006
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, Press Office, 415/947-4248,

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 04/19/2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Klau/Buena Vista Mine outside Paso Robles, Calif. as a federal Superfund site today, which allows the agency to address the long-term cleanup of mercury contamination.

The EPA will now begin further assessing the nature and extent of mercury in soil and water at the site, which consists of two abandoned mercury mines on adjacent properties along a ridge of the Santa Lucia Range of mountains. For years, mercury has leached off the site and contaminated local waterways, including the north fork of Tablas Creek and several nearby ponds and reservoirs. State and local authorities have numerous health advisories in place warning anglers of eating mercury-contaminated fish from waterways impacted by the mine.

“Adding the Buena Vista Mine to the EPA’s Superfund list ensures that we will have the funding, resources and regulatory authority necessary to clean up this site,” said Keith Takata, director of the U.S. EPA’s Superfund program in San Francisco. “We are now ready to roll up our sleeves and work on the long-term stabilization and remediation of a site that has contaminated the local ecosystem for years.”

The EPA removed 114,000 cubic yards of contaminated materials from the drainage channel in 2000 to prevent immediate health threats to human health and then environment. Contaminated materials stored on site are temporarily capped and will be addressed in the site’s long-term cleanup.

The mine was one of six new sites finalized nationwide this week, with an additional four new sites proposed for Superfund status. There are 1,244 Superfund sites nationwide, and 98 in California.

The Buena Vista and adjacent Klau Mine operated from 1868 through 1970 mining mercury and processing ore.