Image of Monte Cristo mine site were clean-up will take place.

Forest Service seeks Public Comment

Forest Service seeks Public Comment on Hazardous Waste Sites

Everett, Wash., April 15, 2010--The Forest Service seeks public comment today through June 1 on a proposal to clean up hazardous waste at old mine and milling sites on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The sites are Monte Cristo Mining Area, located at the headwaters of the South Fork Sauk River, approximately 28 air-miles east-southeast of Granite Falls; Sunset Mine and Mill, at Trout Creek about five miles northeast of Index, North Fork Skykomish watershed; and, Kromona Mine and Mill, on the Middle Fork of the South Fork Sultan River, about 10 miles northeast of Sultan, Skykomish River watershed

Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis reports (EE/CAs) by Forest Service contractors have determined that significant potential risk to both humans and the environment exists from exposure to high concentrations of hazardous substances, particularly arsenic, found in the mine waste, soil, sediment and water. Arsenic and other hazardous metals occur naturally in the ores and rock mined at the sites.

Removal will be conducted under the provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). The projects are a part of a regional and national effort to address impacts caused by abandoned and inactive mine sites on national forest lands. Washington State identified 250 potentially hazardous sites out of 2,200 abandoned sites within national forest boundaries. Cleanup efforts have focused on the worst sites and those in key fisheries watersheds.

Under CERCLA, the Forest Service seeks out past mine operators to pay for cleanup. Funds from the ASARCO bankruptcy, settled in 2009, will pay for work planned at Monte Cristo. Most mine development occurred at the site, primarily between 1890 and 1920, for gold and base metals. The Sunset and Kromona mines produced copper, silver and gold during 1902-1943 and 1916-1955.

The proposed cleanup projects consist of three phases. The first phase will upgrade and build access roads to accommodate equipment and allow for long-term inspection and maintenance. The next phase will excavate between approximately 300 and 16,000 cubic yards of contaminated waste rock, soil and sediment, and move and consolidate it into a covered on-site repository. The final phase will cap the repository covers and other disturbed areas with soil, build diversion channels to direct runoff and protect the repositories, then seed and plant. Extensive use of heavy-lift helicopters is planned at the Monte Cristo site where some mine features are inaccessible by road or lie within the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.

The EE/CAs evaluates cleanup alternatives and proposes recommended alternatives for the sites and is available for review at the Darrington Ranger District office in Darrington, Washington and the Skykomish Ranger District Office in Skykomish, Washington. These and other documents in the Administrative Record Files for these sites are also available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/projects/cercla-hazmat-cleanup-projects/index.shtml.

Written comments can be mailed to: Y. Robert Iwamoto, Forest Supervisor, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 2930 Wetmore Ave. Suite 3A, Everett, Wash., 98201 or emailed to r6_mbs_comments@fs.fed.us.

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richard servatius says ... on Friday, Apr 16 at 6:11 AM

1890 and 1920...hmmm, my dad was born in 1911 and died at 96 years...a little late for the forest service to try chasing down the mine operators. But this is typical of the forest service -- they don't use any common sense at all.

Mike Southland says ... on Friday, Apr 16 at 6:13 AM

I think this seems to be a well thought out project. I am glad to hear funds are coming from past mine operators. Overall I think this sounds great and I am for it.

Norm B says ... on Friday, Apr 16 at 10:31 AM

The road building, excavation, creation and capping of the landfill will do much more harm to the environment than the existing waste will ever do if left alone. Instead, post a sign warning against ingesting the mine tailings and water.

Jingjong says ... on Friday, Apr 16 at 10:36 AM

As if we didn't have enough money spending junkets going in Washington already.

Woodswalker says ... on Friday, Apr 16 at 12:08 PM

Yes...as a MCPA member (Monte Cristo Preservation Association) I wonder how they will get the roads IN there again...as we cannot touch them due to environmental laws and protected creeks/rivers....should be fun to watch.

Mike M says ... on Friday, Apr 16 at 12:21 PM

This is sad. I love hiking to these old mines and photographing what's left. Whether you like it or not these mine sites are a part of our states history, and now the Forest Service wants to erase this past. Visit them before they're gone.

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