News Releases from Region 09
EPA Updates the National Priorities List to Clean Up Contamination and Protect Communities
Copper Bluff Mine in Hoopa, California, added to list
For Immediate Release: May 13, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO — Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is adding seven sites to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) where releases of contamination pose human health and environmental risks. The Copper Bluff Mine, in Humboldt County, Calif., has been added following the agency’s proposal to list the site in September 2018.
The NPL includes the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. Only releases at sites included on the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup.
“By adding these sites to the National Priorities List, we are taking action to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated sites, protect the health of the local communities, and return the sites to safe and productive reuse,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our commitment to these communities is that sites on the National Priorities List will be a true national priority. We’ve elevated the Superfund program to a top priority, and in Fiscal Year 2018, EPA deleted all or part of 22 sites from the NPL, the largest number of deletions in one year since Fiscal Year 2005.”
The Copper Bluff Mine is located within the Hoopa Valley Reservation adjacent to California State Highway 96. Historically used for mining primarily copper and zinc, the site was operated by private companies from about 1928 to 1964. Acid mine drainage has been flowing into the Trinity River since the mine closed, harming the fishery on which the Hoopa Valley Tribe depends.
“The Hoopa Valley Tribe and the tribal fishery are still affected by this mine, despite its closure decades ago,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Adding the site to the National Priorities List is an important step towards cleaning up this toxic legacy.”
“The Copper Bluff Mine attaining a National Priority List determination has been a long overdue recognition that will set a pathway to remediate the acid mine drainage that flows into the Trinity River, impacting cultural resources and the health of the Hupa People,” said Ryan Jackson, Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman. “The Hoopa Valley Tribe has continued to support the Hoopa Land Management Department’s ongoing collaboration with U.S. EPA Region 9 staff in achieving this momentous goal.”
Along with Copper Bluff Mine, the following sites are also being added to the NPL:
- Magna Metals in Cortlandt Manor, New York
- PROTECO in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico
- Shaffer Equipment/Arbuckle Creek Area in Minden, West Virginia
- Cliff Drive Groundwater Contamination in Logansport, Indiana
- McLouth Steel Corp in Trenton, Michigan
- Sporlan Valve Plant #1 in Washington, Missouri
While EPA may find contamination during its own investigations, EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement because states, tribes or citizens ask for the agency’s help.
Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA’s goal is to involve community partners in the cleanup process at every site, including exploring future site uses, thereby giving EPA the best chance of transforming the site into a productive community resource.
Superfund cleanups provide health and economic benefits to communities. The program is credited for significant reductions in birth defects and blood-lead levels among children living near sites, and research has shown residential property values increase up to 24% within 3 miles of sites after cleanup.
Redeveloped Superfund sites can generate a great deal of economic activity. Thanks to Superfund cleanups, previously blighted properties are now being used for a wide range of purposes, including retail businesses, office space, public parks, residences, warehouses, and solar power generation. At 529 Superfund sites returned to productive use, 8,600 businesses operate and 195,000 employees earn more than $13 billion in annual income.
The Superfund Task Force is working to improve the Superfund program. EPA has implemented nearly half of the Task Force’s recommendations to expedite site cleanups and redevelopment and expects to complete the remaining recommendations by July 2019.
For more information about the Copper Bluff Mine site: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/copper-bluff-mine
For information about Superfund and the NPL: https://www.epa.gov/superfund
The 2018 Superfund Accomplishments Report is available at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-remedial-annual-accomplishments
For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for NPL and proposed sites: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites