Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Blue Ledge Mine
EPA #: CAN000906063
City: Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest
Congressional District: 2
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Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 03/10/11
Final Date: 09/16/11
Blue Ledge Mine Site is located on private land within the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest, in Siskiyou County, California, in the 2nd Congressional District. Copper, cadmium and other metals from past copper and zinc mining operations have contaminated sediments and surface water at levels that are toxic to aquatic organisms. Impacts include the absence of fish for more than three miles downstream and potential negative impacts to fisheries all the way to the Applegate Reservoir, nearly eight miles downstream.
The site is an abandoned copper, zinc, gold and silver mine located in Siskiyou County on private land within the Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest, approximately 3 miles south of the Oregon-California border.
The site operated as a mine from approximately 1904 to 1930. More than two miles of underground excavations were developed about 800 vertical feet above Joe Creek. The Forest Service removed 56,000 cubic yards of waste rock in 2010/2011. Acid mine drainage (AMD) discharging from adits flows directly to Joe Creek.
Fish and amphibian surveys conducted in the area by EPA and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) document that the water quality of Joe Creek is impacted below the site. Fish survey data confirmed there are no fish in Joe Creek. Elliott Creek, the Applegate River, and the Applegate Reservoir are considered recreational fisheries. Sensitive, threatened and endangered species have been identified in the vicinity of the site including the northern goshawk, the Siskiyou Mountains salamander, and the northern spotted owl.
Hazardous substances from the mine wastes at the site are transported via Joe Creek to Elliott Creek and possibly further downstream to the Applegate River and ultimately Applegate Reservoir. Copper levels in Joe Creek downstream from the site are above background and exceed the criterion continuous concentration (CCC) for copper in surface water according to EPA's National Recommended Water Quality Criteria. The CCC is national guidance and is an estimate of the highest concentration of copper in surface water to which an aquatic community can be exposed indefinitely without resulting in an unacceptable effect.
EPA has fish, adit and stream sampling efforts underway. EPA finished treatability studies to evaluate treatment of adit discharge in 2013.
Cleanup Results to Date
In May 2006, EPA conducted an initial removal action. Removal efforts included stabilizing waste rock to prevent further erosion into water courses; providing soil cover to reduce the likelihood of direct human contact with contaminants from the waste rock; and creating a system of barriers and drainage systems to reduce the localized AMD and heavy metal impacts on Joe Creek. In 2010, the USFS received $9.738 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds plus an additional $1.325 million from the ASARCO Environmental Trust for work on the site that began during the summer of 2010. USFS work includes removal of two of the four waste rock piles at the site to a constructed repository, and reclamation through erosion control measures, topsoil replacement, and restoration of native vegetation. However, USFS work will not address contaminated sediment in the surface water down gradient from the site, discharge from mine adits, nor long-term operation and maintenance.
Despite the previous actions undertaken by both EPA and the USFS, there remain areas of contamination that must be addressed to ensure there are no further negative environmental or possible human health risks associated with the site.
Potentially Responsible Parties
Potentially responsible parties (PRPs) refers to companies that are potentially responsible for generating, transporting, or disposing of the hazardous waste found at the site.
Documents and Reports
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Jackson County Library - Ruch Branch
7919 Highway 238
Ruch, OR 97530
For more information about the hazardous substances identified in this narrative summary, including general information regarding the effects of exposure to these substances on human health, please see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs. ATSDR ToxFAQs can be found on the Internet at ATSDR - ToxFAQs (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp) or by telephone at 1-888-42-ATSDR or 1-888-422-8737.
EPA Site Manager
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Mail Code SFD-6-3
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
8800 Cal Center Drive
After Hours (Emergency Response)