Denver, Colo. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that United Park City Mines (UPCM) has entered into an agreement with multiple federal and state agencies to assess, cleanup, and restore more than 2,700 acres that are contaminated with historic mining waste within the Richardson Flat Superfund site near Park City, Utah.
Under the terms of an administrative order on consent between UPCM and EPA, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, and the State of Utah Natural Resource Trustee, UPCM will perform an engineering evaluation, cost analysis, cleanup, and restoration in lower Silver Creek.
“EPA is encouraged by United Park City Mines’ commitment to cleaning up the Silver Creek watershed,” said Martin Hestmark, EPA’s assistant regional administrator in Denver. “Restoring these areas and addressing the discharge of heavy metals to Silver Creek will result in dramatic improvements to aquatic habitat and water quality. These efforts will also help ensure the long-term success of work being done to address mine waste in other parts of the Richardson Flat site.”
Historical mining operations undertaken by various parties within the Park City Mining District produced substantial quantities of ore and created significant volumes of mine waste that have contributed to surface water, groundwater, and soil contamination in the Silver Creek watershed. Contaminants of concern include lead, arsenic, zinc, and cadmium.
EPA has been involved with investigation and cleanup activities at the Richardson Flat site since 1988. In 2007, UPCM entered into a consent decree to address mine waste at the Richardson Flat tailings impoundment. With much of this work completed, UPCM is now focusing attention on approximately 1,875 acres along lower sections of Silver Creek north and east of Highway 40 and approximately 836 acres east of Park City along Silver Creek and its floodplain. These properties include land managed by BLM and former Union Pacific Railway right-of-way that is managed by the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation as a recreational trail.
UPCM’s engineering and cost evaluation will characterize conditions in lower Silver Creek and identify alternatives for cleanup actions to prevent, mitigate, and remedy contamination concerns. Upon completion of these analyses, and after consideration of public comment, EPA will issue an Action Memorandum that will document specific cleanup activity to be taken.
In a unique partnership between UPCM, EPA, and federal and state partners, impacts to natural resources, and strategies to restore them will be assessed in coordination with clean-up work, This streamlined process will save time and money during the assessment phase and will result in more resources being available to restore natural resources that have been impacted by mining activities in the watershed.
While cleanup requirements and costs will be determined by UPCM’s assessment work, response actions to improve environmental quality will likely include extensive excavation and removal of contaminated soils, tailings, and sediments in and along Silver Creek. This cleanup activity will be coordinated with the re-vegetation of impacted areas with native species and the restoration of wetlands and the stream channel.
'The BLM has been working for many years to identify the problems resulting in mining-related contamination on the public lands we manage in the Park City area,” said Kevin Oliver, BLM's West Desert district manager. 'We are looking forward to working with UPCM, FWS, State of Utah and EPA to see this site cleaned up and restored in order to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the watershed.'
Today’s agreement secures a plan to assess, cleanup, and restore remaining portions of the Richardson Flat site not already addressed under previously negotiated agreements. UPCM is among several parties that contributed to mine waste contamination at the site. EPA has entered settlements with other responsible parties for recovery of past response costs in other areas of the site. UPCM will fund the activities required under today’s agreement using its own funds and funds EPA recovered through ASARCO’s 2005 bankruptcy.
This agreement builds upon progress in other parts of the Richardson Flat site, including UPCM’s cleanup of the Richardson Flat tailings impoundment and Park City Municipal Corporation’s recent commitment to reduce discharges of metals contaminated water from the Prospector Drain. These activities will result in cleanup and restoration along six miles of the Silver Creek drainage.
For more information on the Richardson Flat Superfund site, visit: http://www2.epa.gov/region8/richardson-flat-tailings