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Case Summary: $143 Million Settlement for Cleanup Work to Prevent Future Contamination of Red River in New Mexico

On May 1, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico approved a consent decree between the United States, the state of New Mexico, and Chevron Mining, Inc. (CMI), requiring $143 million in cleanup work at the Chevron Questa Mine Superfund site near the village of Questa, New Mexico.

As part of the settlement, CMI will perform a pilot project to cover approximately 275 acres of the mine’s tailings facility where mine waste (or “tailings”) is stored, operate a water treatment plant, and install groundwater extraction systems. The company will also pay over $5.2 million to reimburse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its past costs for overseeing cleanup work at the site. 

The cleanup work under this settlement will improve efforts to permanently prevent contamination at the site from affecting the Red River and related water resources, and further reduce risks to nearby communities and the surrounding environment. The settlement includes covering and revegetating about 275 acres of the tailings facility, improving and installing new systems that prevent contaminated water from reaching the Red River, and operating and maintaining a water treatment plant. The settling parties will also monitor the remedy’s long-term effectiveness in reducing risks to human health and the environment.

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Information about Chevron Mining, Inc.

Chevron Mining, Inc., is a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation. Chevron Corporation acquired the mine as a result of its acquisition of Union Oil Company.

Information about the Chevron Questa Mine Superfund Site

The Chevron Questa Mine Superfund site, formerly Molycorp, Inc., is located in Questa, New Mexico. The site includes a former molybdenum mine and milling facility on three square miles of land, and tailings ponds on one-and-a-half square miles of land. A nine-mile-long pipeline running along State Highway 38 connects the milling facility to the tailings ponds. Mining operations began in 1920. Open pit mining took place from 1965 to 1983. Mining operations placed over 328 million tons of acid-generating waste rock into nine piles surrounding the open pit and disposed of over 100 million tons of tailings in the tailings ponds. Mining operations and waste disposal practices contaminated soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater. Site investigations, remedy design and cleanup are ongoing. CMI permanently ceased mining operations at the site in June 2014.

Mining related contamination affects the soil, ground water, surface water, and sediment at and in the vicinity of the mine site and tailings facility. The pollutants include aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, manganese, molybdenum, sulfate, and zinc.

Additional information about this mine site is available on the Chevron Questa Mine Superfund site profile page.

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Contact Information

For more information, contact

Gary Baumgarten
Remedial Project Manager
1445 Ross Avenue, Ste. 1200            
Dallas, TX 75202-2733
(214) 665-6749

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