News Releases from Region 09
U.S. EPA proposes to add Humboldt County mine site to Superfund’s National Priorities List
Mine is only site in California being proposed for cleanup list
SAN FRANCISCO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Copper Bluff Mine, in Humboldt County, Calif., is being proposed for addition to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL). This mine is one of six hazardous waste sites proposed for listing. An additional five sites will be added to the NPL.
“In adding these sites to the NPL, EPA is carrying out one of our core responsibilities to the American people,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Cleaning up sites that pose risks to public health and the environment is a critical part of our mission and it provides significant health and economic benefits to communities across the country.”
The Copper Bluff Mine is located within the Hoopa Valley Reservation adjacent to California State Highway 96. Historically used for mining copper, zinc, silver, and gold, 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.
“Though the Copper Bluff Mine closed decades ago, it is still affecting the Trinity River, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the tribal fishery,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Proposing the site for inclusion on the National Priorities List is an important step towards cleaning up this toxic legacy.”
The NPL includes the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. Only sites on the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup.
EPA initiates Superfund involvement at sites when states, tribes, or communities ask for the agency’s help, or when the agency finds contamination during its own investigations. Sites are deleted from the NPL once the agency completes all response actions and achieves all cleanup objectives. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, which established the Superfund program, requires EPA to update the NPL annually.
The Superfund program has been providing important health benefits to communities across the country for more than 35 years. Superfund cleanups also strengthen local economies. Data collected through 2017 shows that at 487 Superfund sites in reuse, approximately 6,600 businesses generated $43.6 billion in sales and employed 156,000 people who earned a combined income of $11.2 billion.
The NPL is one focus area of the 2017 Superfund Task Force Recommendations to improve and revitalize the Superfund program. On July 23, 2018, EPA released the Superfund Task Force 2018 Recommendations Update.
Under the Trump Administration, the Superfund program has reemerged as a priority to fulfill and strengthen EPA’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. Since October 2017, EPA has deleted 10 full sites and 2 partial sites from the NPL.