Janet Weaver recalls the Lava Cap Mine disaster of January 1997, when winter storm conditions caused a 60-foot high dam containing arsenic tailings to burst loose. She implies that Grass Valley could face a similar disaster one day.
As Nevada County reviews the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, I reflect on the fact that it was 25 years ago, this month, that approximately 20,000 cubic yards of tailings broke loose from a 60-foot-high old log containment dam and arsenic tailings floated from the Lava Cap Mine down three miles into the Little Clipper Creek and into Lost Lake.
During the years that followed, the properties around the Little Clipper have been deemed an EPA Superfund site. They installed a containment system over the remaining arsenic-contaminated tailings, installed drainage channels, replaced the dam, decontaminated mine buildings and excavated contaminated soil from along the creek. EPA constructed an 8-inch pipeline to run approximately 1.5 miles with service lines to connect residences in the area to clean water.
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Janet Weaver resides in Grass Valley