|For Immediate Release: March 26, 2004|
Contact: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297
Press Office Main Line: (415) 947-8700
SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has
awarded $50,000 to the Clear Lake Environmental Action Network (CLEAN)
as part of the ongoing Superfund cleanup at the Sulphur Bank Mercury
Mine in Clearlake Oaks, California.
The private group's mission is to make sure the community understands
the EPA's cleanup at the mine; to inform the community about the
hazards and environmental impacts of the site; to keep them informed
about the progress of the cleanup; to make sure they have a voice in
the process; and to streamline the clean up. The $50,000 will be used
by CLEAN to hire a technical consultant who will review EPA documents
and advise the group and community members about important issues
related to the cleanup so that they can have input in the cleanup
decision making process.
"Technical assistance grants are crucial to any Superfund cleanup
effort," said Keith Takata, head of the Superfund Division at the EPA's
Pacific Southwest Regional Office in San Francisco. "The level of
involvement we expect that the community will be able to have as a
result of this grant will ensure the Sulphur Bank Mine will be cleaned
up in the best possible manner."
The mine is located on the shore of Clear Lake and began operations in
the mid-1800s. Initially, the sulfur was used to manufacture gun
powder, but miners later discovered mercury which was used in gold
extraction. The mine was closed in 1957, leaving 2 million cubic yards
of production wastes and a pit 90 feet deep that began filling with
acidic runoff from the mining and nearby hydrothermal spring waters.
During the 1970s and 1980s, it was discovered that catfish and bass in
Clear Lake had elevated levels of mercury. The site was added to the
National Priorities List in 1990. EPA has implemented several measures
to begin controlling discharges from the site, and is currently
studying the feasibility of implementing additional controls.
For more information, contact the Clear Lake Environmental Action
Network, P.O. Box 926, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423, (707) 998-0135, or
visit their website at www.cleanlake.org.