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EPA Updates Its National Priorities List of Superfund Sites – One Proposed in New Mexico

Release Date: 03/08/2011
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Joe Hubbard at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(DALLAS- March 8, 2011) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the MolyCorp, Inc. mining site near the village of Questa, New Mexico, has been proposed to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites.

The MolyCorp site is a molybdenum mining site in Taos County and consists of two separate areas – the mine and tailing ponds. The mine is approximately three square miles in size and is surrounded by the Carson National Forest and the state-designated Latir Peak Wilderness Area. The tailing facility, which is approximately one square mile in size, is located six miles west of the mine site in the village of Questa. The mine is located near the Red River and includes several side drainages, including Sulfur Gulch, Spring Gulch, Goathill Gulch and Capulin Canyon.

"Adding MolyCorp to the National Priorities List will allow EPA and our partners to use the full range of available regulatory and financial tools to address contamination at the site," said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz. "By working together, we will assure the most effective clean-up for the people of Questa and northern New Mexico."

Chevron Mining, Inc. currently owns and operates the MolyCorp mine site. The mining operation has been active for the last 90 years, with three distinct operational phases: (1) conventional underground mining from about 1919 to 1958; (2) open pit mining from 1965 to 1981; and (3) underground block cave mining, which started in 1983 and continues to the present.

Hazardous substances, contaminants and pollutants from the mining operations have been released into the soil, ground water and sediment at and in the vicinity of the mine and tailing facility, and into the Red River, which flows in a westerly direction just south of the site. Contamination has been documented in both surface water and sediment within the Red River. Contaminants of concern include antimony, boron, cadmium, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, vanadium and zinc.

Other sites proposed to the national cleanup list include the following: Blue Ledge Mine in Rogue River, Siskiyou National Forest, California; New Idria Mercury Mine, Idria, California; Sandoval Zinc Company, Sandoval, Illinois; Gary Development Landfill, Gary, Indiana; Sauer Dump, Dundalk, Maryland; Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation-Columbus, Columbus, Mississippi; Red Panther Chemical Company, Clarksdale, Mississippi; Garfield Ground Water Contamination, Garfield, New Jersey; New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination, New Cassel/Hicksville, New York; CTS of Asheville, Inc. Asheville, North Carolina; Astoria Marine Construction Company, Klamath Falls, Oregon; US Finishing/Cone Mills, Greenville, South Carolina; and Alamo Contaminated Ground Water, Alamo, Tennessee.

More information on the Superfund National Priorities List is available at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm

More about activities in EPA Region 6 is available at http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.html

EPA audio file is available at http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/podcast/mar2011.html

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