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EPA Removes New Mexico’s San Mateo Creek Basin Site from Administrator’s Superfund Emphasis List

04/16/2020
Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (April 16, 2020) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the eighth update to the Administrator’s Emphasis List of Superfund Sites Targeted for Immediate, Intense Action. In this latest update, the San Mateo Creek Basin site in McKinley and Cibola counties, New Mexico, was removed from the list.

Other sites being removed are Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River site in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the St. Regis site in Cass Lake, Minnesota on the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation, and the Abandoned Uranium Mines contamination in the Navajo Nation was added to the list. In addition, EPA continues to make progress toward achieving the milestones at the sites that remain on the Administrator’s Emphasis List. At least two more sites (St. Regis Waterway and Silver Bow/Butte) have made significant progress to-date, and EPA expects their milestones to be achieved soon.

“For the past three years, EPA has focused on getting Superfund sites across the country back on track, and even during these difficult times our work continues, most recently our efforts have finalized a cleanup plan at one site and resulted in cleanup agreements at two more sites,” said EPA Associate  Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento. “I’m pleased to announce that the communities in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and McKinley and Cibola counties in New Mexico can be assured that the long-standing Superfund sites in their communities are on track and making great strides towards effective cleanups. We will continue to advance or accelerate Superfund cleanups at the Abandoned Uranium Mines in Navajo Nation and at sites across the country using every tool in our toolbox to address site-specific issues that delay cleanups.”

EPA is removing the San Mateo Creek Basin site in McKinley and Cibola counties, New Mexico, from the Administrator’s Emphasis List because the milestone to reach agreement with Homestake Mining Company of California, Rio Algom Mining, LLC, and United Nuclear Corporation to begin remedial investigation work at a portion of the site was achieved.

Because of the focus provided by placing this site on the Administrator’s Emphasis List, 1.5 years of inter-agency discussions and potentially responsible party (PRP) negotiations were concluded and an agreement was finalized that will lead to beginning of active remedial field investigations necessary to move the site cleanup forward. The agreement requires the PRPs to investigate groundwater contamination in one of the three major areas of the site, the Central Study Area. The agreement also commits the PRPs to pay response costs EPA incurs in the future, starting with a payment of $700,000, and secure financial assurance for the $15 million estimated cost of the cleanup work. Finalizing the settlement was an important component of the overall mining district cleanup strategy initiated in 2010.

Since the creation of the Administrator’s Emphasis List in 2017, 19 sites have been removed from the list after achieving critical milestones that furthered site cleanup or solved issues slowing the pace of cleanups. With this update, there are a total of 15 Superfund sites on the Administrator’s Emphasis List.

Today’s Administrator’s Emphasis List updates continue to demonstrate EPA’s commitment to the American people to facilitate progress at Superfund sites by resolving long-standing issues at cleanup projects across the country. EPA monitors sites removed from the list to ensure that significant progress continues, and cleanups move towards completion. Two such sites are the Madison County Anschutz Mine site in Fredericktown, Missouri, and the Mississippi Phosphates Corporation site in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Background

EPA established the Administrator’s Emphasis List in December 2017 in response to recommendations from EPA’s Superfund Task Force. The list is comprised of sites identified by Administrator Wheeler and EPA regional offices that will benefit from the Administrator’s immediate attention or action to move site cleanups forward.

The list serves as a mechanism to address site-specific issues that may cause delays in a site’s cleanup progress. EPA considers removing a site from the list once the milestone is achieved and the cleanup activities are back on track. Sites move on and off the list as needed, and removal from the Administrator’s Emphasis List does not change the site’s status on the National Priorities List.  

The updated Administrator’s Emphasis List is available on the agency’s website at 
https://www.epa.gov/superfund/administrators-emphasis-list.

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