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Environmental Enforcement: ARCO to Pay Almost $1m for Nevada Mine Cleanup

Oil company the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) is to pay almost $1 million to reimburse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for cleanup costs incurred at one of its former sites.

The settlement, worth $904,085, pays for remediation actions at the Anaconda Cooper Mine Superfund Site near Yerington, Nev. The funds will be placed into an account and used for future cleanup actions at the site.

This is the third settlement for costs incurred at the Anaconda site. The total collected so far by the EPA is $5,910,121.

“This settlement furthers the EPA’s efforts to have companies responsible for environmental contamination pay their share of cleanup costs,” said Jane Diamond, director of the Superfund division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA will use this money to address urgent cleanup needs at the site and continue our work investigating the site and overseeing the actions of [ARCO].”

The EPA and ARCO are continuing to investigate site contaminants in soil and groundwater and address contamination that affects the local population. Actions completed in the winter included the removal of over 6,000 tons of soil contaminated with radioactive materials and 27,000 feet of pipe contaminated with asbestos and radioactive materials. More than 26 acres of mine tailings were also capped to limit standing, acidic water that could lead to wildlife deaths, and to minimize migration of dust containing hazardous substances.

Originally known as the Empire Nevada Mine, the site began operation around 1918 and was acquired in 1953 by Anaconda Minerals. From 1977 to 1982 the company was owned by ARCO and then sold to Don Tibbals, a local resident, who subsequently sold most of his interests to Arimetco Inc.

Arimetco operated a copper recovery operation from existing ore heaps within the site from 1989 to 1999. Arimetco has terminated operations at the site and is currently managed under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Tucson, Ariz.

Anaconda Mine was designated a Superfund site in 2005. However, the site is not on the National Priorities List and, as such, federal Superfund money cannot be used at the site for long-term cleanup operations.

Superfund is the EPA’s program to clean up the country’s most hazardous waste sites. Sites on the program’s National Priorities List are eligible for federal funding.

In March, the EPA added ten Superfund sites to the National Priorities List. The ten new sites took the number of Superfund sites to 1,290.

For more information on the Anaconda Mine site, click here

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