$60 million cap may be best solution for part of Anaconda Mine site
The Yerington Paiute Tribal Environmental Department has successfully completed review of the first feasibility study to address the ongoing environmental impact of the Anaconda Mine site in Yerington.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s feasibility study for for one part of the site, was undertaken to compare several options for containing the waste and limiting health and environmental impacts to the community. The site meets the criteria for funding through the Federal Superfund program and cleanup efforts could pump as much as $60 million into the Lyon County economy for this first phase.
The EPA Feasibility Study provides solutions to the release of heavy metals and radioactive materials at the Anaconda Mine Site and explored a number of options for containing the waste such as re-mining and capping the site. After review of the study the tribe, with its consultant, McGinnis and Associates LLC, determined that capping the site (a method that covers a mine site to substantially eliminate movement of contaminants from the site) was the only appropriate measure due to the threat from contaminated soil and water. The estimated cost of this option is approximately $60 million but would qualify for the federal Superfund program (a federal law designed to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites). Capping this part of the Anaconda Mine Site not only helps address the threat to community health and natural resources but it also presents a substantial economic development opportunity for Lyon County through job creation associated with the project.
Singatse Peak Services, a subsidiary of Quaterra Resources of British Columbia, Canada, and the current site owner, worked closely with U.S. EPA to determine if the site could be used as part of a proposed new mining operation. However, the material found at this section of the Anaconda Mine Site has already been processed twice by two different mine operators and this particular area only represents a small portion of the site.
According to Justin Whitesides, the Tribal Environmental Director,”The Tribe looks forward to the cleanup of the first part of the mine site as an important step to making an economic recovery as we contend with the toxic environmental legacy of mining in our community.”
The former copper mine, which began operations in 1918, has been the subject of investigation by the EPA due to its mining wastes and continued negative environmental impact. Located about 100 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada, the Anaconda Mine Site remains a 3,500 acre contaminated site with an 800-foot deep mine pit, abandoned mining facilities, large ponds containing acidic, heavy metal-laden waste solutions and radioactive soils. The site is responsible for extensive groundwater contamination that forces hundreds ofYerington residents to depend on delivered bottled water. Additionally, health implications for residents has yet to be assessed but is part of ongoing lawsuits by community members against BP.
The tribe strongly supports an immediate start to the proposed cleanup to protect their community but Singatse Peak Services is requesting continued delay.