For Release: October 15, 2007
Contact: Stephen Razo 951-697-5217, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Open House Planned Regarding Arsenic Remediation Plans
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is conducting another open house for the residents of Red Mountain, Randsburg, and Johannesburg on Wednesday, October 24, 2007, to discuss the status of the arsenic removal project on public lands near their communities in northwestern San Bernardino and northeastern Kern counties.
The open house, part of a series of BLM meetings to keep residents informed, will be held at the Rand Community Building, 22721 Broadway (U.S. Highway 395), Johannesburg, at 6:30 p.m. The first meeting was held in the same location in May of 2006.
"Public health and safety continues to be our top priority so we want the local community to continue to be fully aware of our plans and actions,” stated Hector Villalobos, BLM Ridgecrest field office manager. "We are pleased with the success of our community-based process that will ensure that this historic and modern-day problem is successfully dealt with."
Testing around the Kelly Mine site near Red Mountain by BLM in late December of 2005 indicated unusually high arsenic levels in the tailings piles. Those samples were sent to a qualified laboratory and indicated levels in the samples ranging between 200 and 8,000 parts per million (ppm). BLM shared those findings with EPA, the National Response Center, the governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) and county agencies.
Using emergency funding from the U.S. Department of the Interior, the BLM has performed work primarily in Red Mountain, including fencing, installing protective covers over mineshafts, and relocating rock dumps. The BLM has also re-routed a popular off-highway vehicle (OHV) access route (BLM Route 110) into Randsburg away from the main Descarga Mill tailings.
"We narrowed down our choice to what is in the best interest of public safety," states Villalobos. "The alternate route is safer, family friendly and can accommodate OHVs, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles."
The alternate route begins and ends in the same areas of the old Route 110 but avoids the mine workings, contaminated tailings, and water pipelines. Officials have blocked off the old Route 110 with red carsonite signs. This is part of an overall initiative for the mining area focusing on clean-up, reclamation and public safety.
Active mining ceased at the Kelly Mine site more than 60 years ago and the existence of the naturally occurring arsenic associated with mining activity has long been known. All information regarding this effort can be found at www.blm.gov/ca/ridgecrest.