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EPA Region 6 Updates Its National Priorities List of Superfund Sites - Two Sites Added and One Proposed

Release Date: 09/15/2011
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Joe Hubbard at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(DALLAS – September 15, 2011) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced two sites have been added to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites: the Chevron Questa Mine, formerly known as the Molycorp, Inc. site near the village of Questa, New Mexico, and the Falcon Refinery in San Patricio County, Texas. The EPA also announced the US Oil Recovery site in Pasadena, Texas, has been proposed to the NPL. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country.

The Chevron Questa Mine is a molybdenum mining site in Taos County and consists of two separate areas – the mine area and the tailing ponds. Over 328 million tons of acid-generating waste rock was dumped into large piles within the side drainages during open pit mining from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Chevron Mining, Inc. currently owns and operates the mine which has been active for the last 90 years.

Contaminants of concern including antimony, boron, cadmium, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, vanadium and zinc 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.

The Falcon Refinery, also known as the National Oil Recovery Corporation (NORCO) site, consists of a refinery that has operated intermittently since 1980 and is currently inactive. When in operation the refinery operated at a capacity of 40,000 barrels per day with primary products consisting of naphtha, jet fuel, kerosene, diesel and fuel oil.

Contamination has been documented in nearby wetlands, the Redfish Bay fishery and potential habitat areas for state and federal threatened or endangered species. Inspections revealed releases of fluoranthene, pyrene, chrysene, perylene, barium, manganese and mercury.

"The Superfund program is a proven way to get results for areas affected by extensive hazardous waste pollution," said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz. "Cleaning up these areas also reflects EPA's national priorities of cleaning up our communities and protecting our waters."

The US Oil Recovery (USOR) site is an inactive used oil processor and wastewater treatment facility on two separate parcels located in Pasadena, Harris County, Texas. Hazardous wastes remaining onsite include a variety of volatile organics, metals and mercury. Releases of arsenic, barium, cobalt, manganese, mercury, silver and vanadium have been documented in both surface water and sediment within Vince Bayou. This contamination threatens a nearby fishery and wetlands.

The EPA will seek public comment on adding the US Oil Recovery site to the NPL for 60 days. Comments will be considered as the agency completes the final decision process.

More information on the Superfund NPL 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/sep2011.html

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