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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Oregon / Washington

Josephine Mine and Mill Site

BLM District Spokane (WA) BLM Field Office Border
Congressional District Washington 5th AMLIS # 11017
State Office Contact John Barber HUC # /Subbasin 17010216
Field Office Contact Elizabeth Earp Specific Watershed Sullivan Creek-Pend Oreille
Location North Pend Oreille County near community of Metaline Falls, Washington (T39N, R43E, Sec 16, SW 1/4; Lat. 48.88801986, Long.
-117.3713558), at elevation 2,093'
Land Ownership BLM-administered land
Estimated Cost $400,000
Other Agency Links Washington Dept. of Ecology
Google Earth Click here for map

The Josephine Mine is situated in the northeast corner of Washington State near the community of Metaline Falls just west of the Pend Oreille River. The site consists of the South Josephine Mine and Mill #2 waste rock and tailings piles (approximately 5 acres). It is being addressed in conjunction with the nearby Yellowhead Mine and the Lookout Mine sites. During its operation from the 1930s to the 1960s, the mill processed ore from local metal mines, and mill wastes with elevated concentrations of lead and zinc are present in several areas across the site. The site is on forested land managed by the BLM that are accessible to the public and are a part of the larger zinc-lead Metaline Mining District. Metals in the mine tailings are eroding into tributaries to the river. Remediation priorities include evaluating the stability of tailings sites and investigating alternative sites for development of a permanent repository.

The goal of remedial actions at this site would be to reduce risks to human health and the environment resulting from surface deposits of waste materials from historical mill operations. The action would be accomplished under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). The proposed removal action will specifically address areas of surficial waste constituents and elimination of direct contact exposure pathway to human health, as well as risk to terrestrial ecological and aquatic pathways principally by removal of deleterious materials to permanent repository sites.

The NCP requires an Engineer Estimate/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) to identify potential removal alternatives, evaluate those alternatives, and recommend the most appropriate and protective removal action. The final (EE/CA) for the Josephine site, as well as for the nearby abandoned Lookout and Yellowhead mines was completed in 2008. Additional concerns identified during the EE/CA include physical hazards from steep slopes and unstable debris covering the piles that is being eroded by uncontrolled off-road vehicle use. Remediation will need to take into consideration in-situ stabilization, management of run-on/run-off, institutional controls, and control of off-road vehicle usage. Successful completion of this project will require continuing coordination with the Washington Department of Ecology and the EPA.