Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Atlas Asbestos Mine
EPA #: CAD980496863
County: Fresno, San Benito
City: 18 miles northwest of Coalinga (OU1), City of Coalinga (OU1)
Congressional District: 20
Other Names: Arroyo Pasajero, Clear Creek Management Area, City of Coalinga, Hollister Resource/Bureau of Land Management
On May 1, 2008, Region 9 released the Asbestos Exposure and Human Health Risk Assessment for the CCMA. Based on the results of the assessment, the Bureau of Land Management issued an immediate temporary closure of the CCMA pending completion of a Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the area. BLM is currently completing the final RMP.
EPA Naturally Occurring Asbestos/ Clear Creek Management Area website: http://www.epa.gov/region09/toxic/noa/clearcreek/index.html
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Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 09/08/83
Final Date: 09/21/84
The Atlas Asbestos Mine site covers 435 acres near Coalinga, California. The mine operated from 1963 until 1979 and consisted of the asbestos mine, a processing mill, support buildings, and extensive asbestos mine tailings. During operation, some milling and mining products from Atlas and the Coalinga Asbestos Mines were transported to the City of Coalinga. In addition, the Coalinga Asbestos Mine, also listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) and located about three miles away, deposited its milling and mining products in Coalinga. (For additional information, please see the separate listing for Coalinga Asbestos Mine). The 107-acre area in the City of Coalinga was operated as an asbestos milling, manufacturing, storage, and transportation center. It consisted of four distinct areas: the warehouse, which once was a mining waste storage and distribution center; a storage yard containing asbestos-contaminated stacked pipes; a shipping yard used as an asbestos distribution center by the Atlas Asbestos Company; and the U.S. Asbestos Company, which stored piles of asbestos-contaminated mining waste. The Atlas mine area drains directly into White Creek, which drains into Los Gatos Creek, a tributary of the Arroyo Pasejaro, a flood area along the California Aqueduct. A detention basin was built in the flood plain to store water during heavy run-off and to allow the asbestos-laden sediment to settle. Sediments carried by floodwaters silted up the detention basin and diminished its storage capacity, so that during heavy floods the waters could potentially be released into the canal through four drain inlets, carrying asbestos into the aqueduct. In the past, elevated levels of asbestos have been found in the aqueduct. However, most of the downstream users of the aqueduct water are protected by filtration and settling pond systems, which trap most of the asbestos fibers. In 2004, the Department of Water Resources enlarged the detention basin to increase its holding capacity during flooding.
The area surrounding the Atlas Mine Area (OU1) is primarily rural. The land is used for ranching, farming, and recreational activities such as hunting, hiking, camping, and off-road vehicles. About 10 ranchers live within 5 miles of the site. The City of Coalinga (OU2) is a community with a population of approximately 19,000 people.
Contaminants and Risks
- Surface Water
- Soil and Sludges
Prior to remediation, air, surface water, sediments, and soils were contaminated with asbestos. Soil and building debris in the City of Coalinga also were contaminated with chromium and nickel. People who touched, accidentally ingested, or inhaled contaminated air, surface water, sediments, or soil might have been at risk. These risks were eliminated by remedial activities, as described below
Who is Involved
This site is being addressed through Federal and potentially responsible parties' actions.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
The site was addressed in two long-term remedial phases directed at cleanup of two separate Operable Units (OUs). An OU is a focused study area that allows the EPA to take discrete actions as part of an overall site cleanup. At the Atlas Asbestos Mine OU activities focused on remediating surface asbestos/mine tailings; at the City of Coalinga OU activities focused on remediating contamination associated with storage and milling asbestos.
Atlas Asbestos Mine OU: The EPA completed investigations of the surface asbestos at the mine site in 1991. The selected remedy for the final cleanup included diverting the stream flow away from the mine surfaces and tailing piles by building stream diversions, minimizing the release of sediments containing asbestos by building sediment trapping dams, stabilizing the slopes of the waste piles by regrading and limiting access to the site by erecting fences, and placing deed restrictions on private property at the mine area. Cleanup construction activities began in 1994 and were completed in 1996. A revegetation pilot study was completed in 1999.
A Five Year Review, completed in 2011, noted that the selected remedy at the Atlas Mine was functioning as intended, and remained protective of human health and the environment. However, in order to be protective in the long term, the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) manual for the Atlas Mine Area OU should be revised to include a requirement for a minimum of one aerial inspection to be conducted during each Five-Year Review period. Aerial inspections would allow for thorough examination of the site boundary to determine whether migration of asbestos laden materials is occurring.
In addition to specifying the Final Remedy for the mining area, the Record of Decision for the Atlas Asbestos Mine OU required that potential human health risks associated with recreational activities in the surrounding Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) be addressed. The CCMA consists mainly of public lands located on a serpentine ore body, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Naturally occurring (unprocessed) asbestos in air is generated by off-highway vehicle riding, hiking and camping activities. The BLM completed a risk assessment in 1992 using activity-based air sampling during typical recreational activities to evaluate risks associated with inhalation of airborne asbestos. EPA updated this risk assessment, using state-of-the-art asbestos sampling and analysis techniques. The Clear Creek Management Area Asbestos Exposure and Human Health Risk Assessment was released May 1, 2008. The assessment found an increased long-term cancer risk from engaging in many of the typical recreational activities at CCMA. In particular, motorcycle riding, ATV riding, and SUV driving created the highest asbestos exposures. Many CCMA activities were found to have lifetime excess cancer risks above the range that EPA considers to be acceptable. Based on the EPA assessment, the BLM issued a immediate temporary closure of CCMA pending completion of an updated Resource Management Plan.
For more information on the CCMA Asbestos Exposure and Human Health Risk Assessment, please click here.
City of Coalinga OU: In 1989, the EPA selected a remedy to clean up the 107 acres of contamination in the City of Coalinga. The remedy included excavating and consolidating approximately 20,000 cubic yards of asbestos, chromium, and nickel-contaminated soil and building debris; building an underground waste management unit (WMU) to contain and dispose of contaminated soil and waste on site; covering the WMU area with an impermeable cap; regrading the excavated area; decontaminating the debris; monitoring the soil, groundwater, and air; and implementing deed restrictions on the use of the land. The parties potentially responsible for site contamination began cleanup activities under EPA oversight in 1990 and completed activities in 1993. The City of Coalinga OU is also part of the overall cleanup of the Coalinga Asbestos Mine Superfund site which contains two operable units: the City of Coalinga and the Coalinga Asbestos/Johns-Manville Mill. On November 21, 1998, a Notice of Intent to Delete the Coalinga Asbestos Mine site was published in the Federal Registry. The public comment period ended on December 21, 1998 and EPA responded to comments received. The Coalinga Asbestos Mine site was formally deleted from the National Priorities List on April 24, 1998. EPA bases its decision to delete the site on the criterion that the responsible parties have implemented all appropriate response actions required for the site. Even if a site is deleted from the NPL, where hazardous substance, pollutants, or contaminants remain at the site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure, EPA's policy is that a subsequent review of the site will be conducted at least every five years after the initiation of the remedial action at the site to ensure that the site remains protective of public health and the environment. The second Five-Year Review for the Atlas Asbestos Mine Superfund site (2006), was completed on September 28, 2006, found that EPA policy had changed regarding the protectiveness of the 1% asbestos cleanup level that was set in the ROD for the soils in the area outside the WMU and recommended that additional work be done to assure that the cleanup is protective. EPA subsequently conducted further soil and activity-based air sampling to determine whether the City of Coalinga OU presented any exposure issues of concern. The results of the sampling showed that the cleanup of the site continued to be protective of human health and the environment and than no further remedial action was necessary.
The third Five-Year Review, completed in September 2011, determined that the remedy at the City of Coalinga OU was functioning as intended and is protective of human health and the environment.
Cleanup Results to Date
The cleanup of the Atlas Asbestos Mine OU is complete and is protective of human health and the environment. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control oversees the Operation and Maintenance activities at the City of Coalinga OU.
The most recent Five-Year Review of the remedy at the Atlas Asbestos Mine Superfund Site was completed in August 2011. The remedy is working as designed and is protective of human health and the environment. EPA noted operational recommendations in the report that will be completed. The next review for the site will be completed by September 2016.
Potentially Responsible Parties
Potentially responsible parties (PRPs) refers to companies that are potentially responsible for generating, transporting, or disposing of the hazardous waste found at the site.
Northrop Grumman Corporation, Union Pacific Railroad Company, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Union Pacific Railroad Company
Documents and Reports
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Coalinga District Library
305 N. 4th Street
Coalinga, CA 93210
Kings County Library
401 North Douty
Hanford, CA 93230
Avenal Public Library
501 East Kings
Avenal, CA 93204
Huron City Hall
36311 Lassen Avenue
Huron, CA 93234
EPA Site Manager
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
8800 Cal Center Drive
Sacramento, CA 95826-3200
After Hours (Emergency Response)