News.bytes NEWS.BYTES Extra - issue 192

BLM taking part in cleanup at Rinconada Mine, near San Luis Obispo

This abandoned mercury mine has been the focus of a joint-cleanup involving several agencies - the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA's Region 9 Removal Action Program, and AML/Hazmat (Abandoned Mine Lands/Hazaradous Material) staff in the U. S. Forest Service (USFS's Los Padres National Forest) and BLM's Bakersfield Field Office and California State Office AML staff.

- Dr. Jim Rytuba's science team from the U.S. Geologic Service (USGS), and the Central Coast-Regional Water Quality Control Board staff initially provided sampling/characterization data - to justify the expenditure of federal funds to clean up the site under the EPA's removal action program.

- Phase 1 of the joint cleanup was conducted from October, 2003 to December, 2004, with overall costs to date of roughly $2.1 Million. BLM's funding contribution was $355,000, USFS funding was $800,000, and EPA contributed funds were roughly $1 Million.

- Two mercury retort sites and associated mercury tailings were removed from BLM-administered land. Roughly 1700 tons to tailings were excavated and hauled to hazardous material repositiories in both Kettleman City and Buttonwillow, CA

- Phase 2 cleanup at the Rinconada Mine site will focus on mercury tailings removal and streambed/bank stabilization during the Spring/Summer season of 2005. BLM has contributed $400,000 to this upcoming cleanup effort. A joint BLM/EPA technical team will be collaborating on a final remedial design for the Rinconada Creek cleanup adjacent to the mine/mill site.

On December 1, 2004 representatives from the Bakersfield FO admin staff and CASO Minerals Division met to tour the Rinconada Mine sites to inspect the Phase I completed restoration. Also present were technical specialists from the USGS (Menlo Park) and BLM's National Technology and Science Center in Denver.

Below: View from Rinconada Millsite looking down on workers restoring hillslope and creek bed areas:
Workers restoring hillside and creek bed areas

Below: Taking part in the inspection tour were (left to right):
Dr. Jim Rytuba-USGS (mercury geochemist/geologist)
Karl Ford - BLM/NSTC (toxicologist/hazmat pgm)
Aaron Slowey - Stanford (Envtl Science)
Jim Fogg - BLM/NSTC (hydrologist)
David Lawler - BLM/CASO (AML Pgrm)
Kent Varvel - BLM/Bksfld (Hazmat Pgm)
Patty Gradek - BLM/Bksfld (Branch Chief Minerals)
John Scibinski - BLM/Bksfld (Asst FO Manager)
Richard Grabowski, - BLM/CASO (DSD - Minerals)
Ron Huntsinger - BLM/Bksfld (FO Manager)
John Andrews - Rinconada Valley resident
Dave Schwartzbart - (CRWQCB)

Participants in the inspection tour (listed above)

News.bytes, issue 192