The Department of Justice (DOJ), EPA and the state of New Mexico have reached a settlement with Chevron Mining Inc. (Chevron Corp IW500/5) requiring $143 million in cleanup work at the Chevron Questa Mine Superfund site near Questa, N.M.
As part of the settlement, the company will perform a pilot project to cover about 275 acres of the tailing facility where mine waste or “tailings” are stored, operate a water treatment plant and install groundwater extraction systems. CMI will also pay over $5.2 million to reimburse EPA’s past costs for overseeing cleanup work at the site.
“This settlement will advance substantial cleanup work at the Questa site, and require actions to prevent future contamination of the Red River,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement is the product of excellent cooperation between the state and federal governments and CMI to continue the vital cleanup work at the Chevron Questa Mine Site.”
U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez of the District of New Mexico said the settlement builds on the consent decree entered into in September 2015 and represents another step towards remedying the serious environmental damages suffered as a result of decades of extensive mining activities “In addition to requiring crucial cleanup work, the settlement includes important measures to prevent further contamination of the environment and provides for extensive monitoring to ensure compliance,” he added.
The proposed partial consent decree, if approved by the court, will provide for the next phase of the cleanup at the former mine site. It is the largest settlement of its kind for cleanup work in EPA Region 6. CMI already has completed a number of response projects at the site under previous agreements with EPA, including the cleanup of Eagle Rock Lake and the removal of numerous tailing spills. The new work will improve efforts to permanently prevent contamination from the site from affecting the Red River and other water resources and further reduce risks for nearby communities and the surrounding environment.