The historic Kelly Mine was actively mined for lode silver mainly during 1919-1942. The historic Kelly Mill was constructed during the 1920?s and consisted of several generations of cyanidation mill processing circuits. Roughly $20 Million dollars of silver bullion was produced by the mine during its 20-year mine life. Approximately 500,000 tons of mill tailings and 500,000 tons of waste rock were generated by milling and mining operations, respectively. The Kelly mill tailings and waste rock has been discovered recently to contain highly elevated levels of arsenic (500-8,000 ppm). These tailings have discharged from tailing dams and ponds and rock dumps over a 80-year period into residential areas within the town site of Red Mountain and thence into the Red Mountain Wash area and Cuddeback Basin and floodplain areas.
Significant potential human health risks to the community and regional environmental impacts may have resulted from release of arsenic-bearing tailings into the waters of the state and airborne sources. This area has now been designated as an AML CERCLA site. Sample results from water, sediment, and biota indicate elevated arsenic and mercury level exist in the floodplain sediments. A CERCLA time-critical remediation process has been implemented.
A RSI (Removal Site Investigation) document will be compiled by March, 2006. Compilation of a focused EE/CA (Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis) document will be contracted during 2006. Remediation options will be listed in the EE/CA. Identification and coordination of identified Responsible Parties (RP) will be required to effectively remediate and stop continued migration of arsenic tailings downstream onto residences and downstream watershed areas.
EPA Region 9 has assigned an OSC (on-scene coordinator) to evaluate the human health risk from off-site migration of arsenic tailings onto adjoining private residences
Proposed improvement of human health by reduction of dermal and airborne exposure to arsenic by undertaking proposed remediation of arsenic-bearing mill and mine tailings. The Removal of arsenic-mercury contaminated sediments within active stream channel/100-year floodplain will change its present status as a pollution "nonpoint source" under the Clean Water act and prevent downstream discharge into the Red Mountain Wash - Cuddeback Basin watershed. The California State Water Control Board and other regulatory agencies require that mandate significant reductions in arsenic loads from its managed lands within California.
This site of BLM's high priority AML 1010 sites for pilot cleanup. During FY05 technical specialists collected water and sediment samples. During FY06 BLM specialists and BLM contractors will undertake CERCLA Time Critical Actions. Specifically, emergency remediation and removal actions will be undertaken which focus on human health protection from health risks associated with the arsenic-bearing tailings.