Nevada wants out of Superfund listing at mine

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Debra Reid/ AP In this Nov. 30, 2004, file image, an evaporation pond holds contaminated fluid and sediment at the previous Anaconda copper mine near Yerington.

Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017|3:56 p.m.

RENO– Nevada wishes to revoke a contract to designate a hazardous mine a top priority U.S. Superfund website– a relocation critics warn might leave state taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions dollars in cleanup costs, according to files gotten by The Associated Press.

State regulators say a brand-new method with private backing would save money over the next 10 years and ensure faster clean-up, particularly offered the Trump administration’s often hostile view of the EPA.

However, the watchdog group Great Basin Resource Watch states the state’s unprecedented effort would further delay remediation of groundwater contaminated by almost 100 tons of uranium and other impurities abandoned at the previous Anaconda copper mine about 80 miles southeast of Reno

The group implicates the state of starting a clandestine effort to re-establish Nevada as the lead authority in the clean-up of the toxic stew just months after it had actually dropped its long-held opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to add the World War II-era mine to the list of the country’s most polluted sites.

The close-by Yerington Paiute Tribe is suing previous mine owners Atlantic Richfield Corp. and BP America Inc. for tens of countless dollars.

The suit submitted last month in Yerington Paiute Tribal Court declares the business “masked the real extent of contamination … in spite of their understanding of the major health and environmental results connected with exposure to harmful and dangerous substances, and in spite of orders and alerting from health and ecological regulators.”

EPA authorities have argued for years that adding the 6-square-mile website to the top priority list would make it qualified for federal money to pay for 90 percent of the 10s of countless dollars had to start cleaning up the most extremely infected waste ponds.

The almost 90 million gallons of acidic service left would cover about 80 football fields at 10 feet deep.

The EPA published the proposed listing in the Federal Register last September.

Kay Scherer, the state official supervising Nevada’s Department of Environmental management at the time, said the state was pleased with the listing proposition, identifying it as the next step to secure federal funds to help with remediation of the mine website.

However Great Basin Resource Watch Director John Hadder states within months the state had already started private conversations to scuttle the listing.

He stated locals were excluded of those conversations and didn’t learn up until completion of June that the state and Atlantic Richfield Corp. had actually signed a preliminary “structure agreement” on June 13 regarding the cleanup strategy.

The state sent the EPA an official request on July 31 to keep the site off the concern list.

EPA spokesperson Margo Perez-Sullivan verified the company is examining the request.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and others have actually raised issues about the capability of EPA to supply the money needed to speed clean-up efforts. They also cited the preconception of a Superfund classification as detrimental to the economy of the location.

His previous contract including the EPA listing featured a caveat that the state might continue to seek a private celebration to cover the cleanup expenses.

Brett Clanton, a spokesman for Atlantic Richfield, now owned by BP America, stated the company has actually spent $150 million over the previous 10 years examining the site and wishes to accelerate the cleanup process.

“If an arrangement can be settled, deferment will provide financing certainty for the cleanup, save taxpayers more than $45 million, speed up cleanup and prevent the community from being stigmatized by Superfund designation,” Clanton stated in an email to AP. He stated they are presently examining the Yerington Paiute suit.

The draft agreement acquired by the AP mentions any last clean-up strategy would be substantially similar to EPA’s original plan. It says EPA would regularly review the site to determine if the action is progressing adequately and would maintain authority to end the deal.

Jo Ann Kittrell, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental management, stated the state invited the guard dog group to take part in planning conferences last spring, however it decreased. She stated the agreement would explain the state won’t handle any new liabilities.

Kittrell said the offer supplies more certainty about funding and getting the site cleaned up in the next Ten Years.

The draft arrangement approximates completion of the cleanup by 2029, however critics said it’s an impractical deadline and might leave Nevada taxpayers responsible for clean-up costs.

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