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U.S. EPA ANNOUNCES CARSON RIVER MERCURY CLEANUP DECISION

Release Date: 5/31/1995
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

(San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(U.S. EPA) today announced a plan for cleaning up mercury-
contaminated soil at the Carson River Mercury Superfund site in
Nevada.


     "This action will significantly contribute to the
achievement of U.S. EPA's ultimate objective in this project:
protection of the health and environment of the citizens who live
in the vicinity of this Superfund site," said Jeff Zelikson, U.S.
EPA's regional hazardous waste management division director.
"This decision was made after a thorough investigation of the
enviromental problems at this site and careful consideration of
all the cleanup options."


     Mercury found in the Carson River basin resulted from mining
activities during the 1800s when mercury was used to process gold
and silver ore.  U.S. EPA will excavate and dispose of the
mercury-contaminated soil and backfill with clean top soil in
four areas of Dayton and one area in Silver City.  The excavated
contaminated soil will be disposed of at an approved landfill.
Restoration of the areas will include replacing fences,
structures, and vegetation.


     U.S. EPA will not fence the Dayton Ditch as originally
proposed because the public is opposed for esthetic reasons and
wants continued access.  The state of Nevada expressed concerns
about long-term maintenance of a fence.   The Agency agreed to no
action because mercury levels are relatively low in the area.
However, the Agency will continue to sample this area, and will
take action if warranted.

    U.S. EPA is also investigating mercury contamination of the
Carson River system including ecological impacts.  Elevated
levels of mercury have been detected from above the Dayton area
through the Lahontan Reservoir to Stillwater National Wildlife
Refuge.


     In August 1990, U.S. EPA placed a 100-mile stretch of the
Carson River on the federal National Priorities List for
hazardous waste sites requiring Superfund cleanup.  The NPL is
U.S. EPA;s list of hazardous waste sites potentially posing the
greatest long-term threat to public health and the environment.
U.S. EPA identifies and ranks NPL sites according to threats to
nearby populations through actual or potential contamination of
groundwater, surface water or air.


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