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Lake County Record Bee article, April 1, 2004 by Larry Spears - Record-Bee staff

$50,000 Grant for Superfund Cleanup Comments

By Larry Spears - Record-Bee staff

CLEARLAKE OAKS - The Clear Lake Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) has received a $50,000 federal grant to help the community understand and comment on the Sulphur Bank Superfund cleanup on the shores of Clear Lake.

CLEAN will hire a technical advisor to analyze and interpret the scientific and engineering project documents, make them clear to CLEAN and the community, and help the group make sure that residents have a voice in the process.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) soon will release publicly a draft feasibility study for mitigating pollution from the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine on Clear Lake's Oaks arm.

"We anticipate choosing a technical adviser by April 16," said CLEAN Chair Chuck Lamb of Clearlake Oaks.

The technical adviser will review project documents before CLEAN introduces him or her at a community meeting. "The adviser will hear the questions, seek out the answers and get back," Lamb said Tuesday.

Then there will be another meeting to get out the information.

The advisor will be around for at least two or three years during the first phase of the project, which deals with contamination on land at the site.

There will also be an adviser for the second phase in the wetlands and sediment, possibly the same one. During the process, an adviser will continue to analyze information, write reports, make presentations at public meetings and help CLEAN write its comments.

"Technical assistance grants are crucial to any Superfund cleanup effort," said Keith Takata, head of the Superfund Division at EPA's Pacific Southwest Regional Office in San Francisco.

"The level of involvement we expect from the community ... will ensure the Sulphur Bank Mine will be cleaned up in the best possible manner."

The application deadline is April 5. CLEAN already has two prospective candidates, said Lamb, both with doctoral degrees in science. They have to know about water and water problems, land geology and contamination.

EPA requirements also mention expertise with health sciences, landfill gasses, institutional controls and engineering, or a good explanation of how that expertise will be acquired.

Familiarity with mining side cleanups, experience with Native American tribal issues and experience with people who aren't experts are also sought.

Applications can be sent to CLEAN, P.O. Box 926, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423. The group can be reached at (797) 998-0135, by fax at (707) 998-2180, and by e-mail at info@cleanlake.org. Its Web site is www.cleanlake.org. The EPA plans to hold special public comment meetings for residents.