Superfund cutbacks won’t stop Leviathan Mine cleanup
Funding for cleanup of the old Leviathan Mine, a Superfund site in Alpine County, will not be affected by budget cuts recently announced by the Inspector General at the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The site, an old sulfur pit about 25 miles southwest of Gardnerville, is leaking metals and acid into Leviathan and Bryant creeks and the East Fork of the Carson River.
The mine was last operational in 1962. The EPA listed it as a Superfund site in May 2000.
“The state of California and Atlantic Richfield Company are paying for clean-up work at the site right now and not the Superfund,” said Chris Stetler, senior engineer of the Leviathan Mine Unit at the state’s Lahonton Regional Water Quality Control Board. “The Superfund is typically tapped into if there aren’t any responsible parties that have money or if you have responsible parties unwilling to do the work.”
Atlantic Richfield bought the mine when it purchased Anaconda Company in the early 1980s. Anaconda mined sulfur from the pit starting in 1954.
Since 2000, Lahonton has spent about $1 million a year treating ponds of acid, monitoring the site and planting vegetation. Five Lahontan employees are devoted to the cleanup at Leviathan, Stetler said.