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EPA proposes adding Flat Creek Iron Mountain Mine and Mill to list of Superfund sites

Release Date: 04/08/2009
Contact Information: Gwen Christiansen, EPA NPL Coordinator, 303-312-6463 Joe Vranka, EPA, 406-457-5039 Sandi Olsen, MT DEQ, 406-841-5001

Listing on NPL would make cleanup at Flat Creek IMM a high priority

(Denver, Colo. – April 8, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), today announced its proposal to add the Flat Creek Iron Mountain Mine and Mill site in Mineral County, Mont., to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites.

This proposal will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, April 9, which begins a sixty-day public comment period on the proposed listing.

The area being considered for addition to the National Priorities List has contamination from abandoned historic hard rock mining operations at the Iron Mountain Mine and Mill. The Iron Mountain Mine and Mill operated from 1909 - 1930 and again from 1947 - 1953. The mine produced silver, gold, lead, copper and zinc ores. The Town of Superior is located approximately 3.5 miles downstream of the old Iron Mountain Mine and Mill.

The proposed site consists of 4 areas:

    • Soils in residential areas in and around the Town of Superior
    • Former drinking water source
    • Abandoned mine and milling properties
    • Sediments in and near Flat Creek

The site contains multiple mine waste tailings piles found to have levels of arsenic, antimony, lead and manganese that may pose long-term risks to public health and the environment. Superfund listing would make the site eligible for funds to clean up the contamination and would also provide opportunities for technical assistance to local residents, the Town of Superior and Mineral County.

If EPA finalizes the proposed listing of Flat Creek IMM, it would make cleaning up this site a high priority nationally and would enable the EPA and MDEQ to use Superfund authorities to oversee the comprehensive cleanup of the site.

The NPL is a list of sites across the nation that are contaminated with hazardous substances which pose a risk to public health and the environment. The Superfund program was created to address these risks and return the sites to beneficial use.

"Adding this site to the National Priorities List will enable the Montana DEQ, Forest Service and the EPA to comprehensively address contamination from the site in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment," said Carol Rushin, Regional Administrator for EPA's Region 8 office.

Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer, in his January letter to EPA supporting listing stated, “I believe it is imperative to address contamination that poses a long-term risk to our citizens in a timely coordinated and cost-effective fashion. Therefore, I too support the listing of this site on the NPL.”

Listing on the NPL would make Flat Creek IMM eligible for extensive, long-term cleanup using the Superfund process; make the site eligible for federal funds for cleanup; and would guarantee the public an opportunity to participate in cleanup decisions.

“Moving forward with proposed listing enables my staff to get to work this summer, sampling properties and identifying areas that need to be cleaned up. We will continue to work with the local community. We want and need community participation to make this cleanup successful.” said Joe Vranka, Superfund Branch Chief in the EPA Montana Office.

"The Flat Creek IMM site listing will give the Montana DEQ the opportunity to continue ongoing and important work with the EPA in the spirit of collaboration on federal Superfund site remediation," said Richard Opper, director of the MDEQ. "The DEQ wholeheartedly supports environmental sampling and cleanup that will allow the community to move forward with certainty toward its goals."

More information about the site can be obtained by visiting the following Web site:
www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/mt/flatcreekimm

Or, by viewing records at the following locations:

U.S. EPA Montana Office
Superfund Records Center
10 W 15th St. Suite 3200
Helena, MT 59626
406-457-5046
or 406-457-5000

Mineral County Courthouse
300 River Street, 2nd Floor
Environmental Health and Planning Section
Superior, MT 59872
406-822-3577

An Information Repository will be located at:
Mineral County Courthouse
300 River St, 2nd floor
Environmental Health and Planning
Superior, MT

The public comment period on this proposal (FDMS Docket # EPA-HQ-SFUND-2009-0075) is open from April 9 to June 9, 2009. Those interested in commenting on the proposed NPL listing can submit comments in the following ways:

ON-LINE: Go to www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments using FDMS Docket # EPA-HQ-SFUND-2009-0075

BY E-MAIL: E-mail written comments referring to FDMS Docket # EPA-HQ-SFUND-2009-0075 to: superfund.docket@epa.gov

BY REGULAR MAIL: Send written comments referring to FDMS Docket # EPA-HQ-SFUND-2009-0075 to:

Docket Coordinator, Headquarters
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
CERCLA Docket Office (Mail Code – 5305T)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20460
202-566-0276