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U.S. EPA APPROVES CLEANUP OF MINE SITE IN AMADOR COUNTY

Release Date: 3/27/1995
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

  (San Francisco)--  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(U.S. EPA) today announced that it has approved a plan to clean
up the yards of homes and other areas in Sutter Creek, Amador
County, that have been contaminated with arsenic from a former
mining operation.  


     "We will be moving as quickly as possible to clean up this
site to protect the health of the residents and the environment,"
said Jeffrey Zelikson, U.S. EPA's hazardous waste management
division director.


     The U.S. EPA and the state Department of Toxics Substances
Control (DTSC) found that tailings from the Central Eureka Mine
Co. had contaminated soil in the yards of two residential
developments with arsenic. The developments affected by the
contamination are the Mesa de Oro and Gold Quartz Terrace
subdivisions, which contain between 70 and 80 homes. Sampling
done by DTSC and U.S. EPA has consistently found levels of
arsenic exceeding 500 parts per million (ppm) in soil in the
yards of residences. Elevated levels of arsenic have also been
found in household dust. The site will be cleaned up to U.S.
EPA's health standard of 22 ppm. Arsenic is a known human
carcinogen.  


     U.S. EPA's cleanup plan, which has been developed with input
from the community and local officials, will be conducted in two
parts. One portion of the work will address the contaminated mine
tailings, which continue to leak out of an impoundment. They will
be contained by constructing a system of retaining walls and
berms. A device to capture the sediment that is being washed down
from the mine site will also be constructed. A second portion of
the work will address the contaminated yards, which will be
excavated to an average depth of about two feet, backfilled,
capped to contain the arsenic, and then landscaped. No excavation
will take place under homes or other existing structures.


     U.S. EPA is negotiating with several potential responsible
parties to reach agreement with them to clean up the site. Work
may begin in May and be completed in the fall of 1995.


     The potential responsible parties are: AlliedSignal, a
corporate successor to the Central Eureka Mine Co; Steel Building
Systems Inc., owner and developer of the Mesa de Oro subdivision;
and Wilbur and Myrtle Salmon, Charter Mortgage and Investments
Inc., Kirk Bryson, and Alpheus Kaplan, all owners and operators
of the site.


     The site is not listed on U.S. EPA's Superfund National
Priorities List (NPL). The work would be accomplished under the
Superfund emergency response program, which handles imminent
threats to human health and the environment. These situations
range from acute, life-threatening hazardous substance spills to
complex situations involving improper management of hazardous
waste. Since 1980, U.S. EPA has completed over 3,000 emergency
response actions.  


     The Central Eureka mine operated intermittently from 1855 to
1958, and along with the Old Eureka mine and South Eureka mine
sent ore to a mill operated by the Central Eureka Mine Co. The
mill extracted gold from the ore in a process that produced
arsenic-laden waste. The waste from the mill was transported to
an impoundment, which eventually encompassed 11 acres. Some of
the homes are located on the top of a mesa near the impoundment
and the rest around its perimeter.      


 
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