Nevada deferral of Anaconda Superfund site speeds cleanup progress

Cleanup at the polluted Anaconda Copper Mine outside Yerington is ramping up two years after it started, and state officials are relieved at the progress.

Several years ago, it looked as though the site was headed toward the federal Superfund list, a woefully and perpetually underfunded compilation of highly polluted national sites.

“It’s a major milestone,” said Samantha Thompson, Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources public information officer, of the work at Anaconda.

Anaconda is a defunct, 3,500-acre copper mine that produced about 400 acres of waste rock, 900 acres of contaminated tailings and 300 acres of disposal ponds between 1952 and 1978. Atlantic Richfield Company purchased the operation in 1977 and ceased mining a year later.

In 1982, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection alleged that Atlantic Richfield (ARC) was discharging pollutants into area groundwater.  

The mine reopened from 1989 to 2000, but in 2000 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked that the mine be placed on the national priority list for cleanup. The request was rejected by the state of Nevada.

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