SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is adding Argonaut Mine, located in Amador County, to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List. Historic gold mining operations deposited high levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury in soils. Today’s action makes the site eligible to receive federal funding for a long-term, permanent cleanup.
“Now that Argonaut Mine is on the Superfund list, EPA can begin full-scale efforts to clean up contaminated soil throughout the site,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “As we have been working with the community since 2013, this is an important step to address the mine’s toxic legacy.”
Argonaut Mine, located west of downtown Jackson, is a hard rock gold mine that operated from the 1850s to 1942. The now-defunct Argonaut Mining Company processed ore and disposed of tailings (waste left after the mining process) on the northwest side of Jackson. Most of the contaminated soil is in a 65-acre area to the west of Highway 49.
In 2015, EPA took action to clean up the highest levels of contamination at eleven residential properties and a vacant lot in Jackson, and installed a protective cover on steep soil slopes at the junior high school.