Monday, June 6, 2011

State to investigate contamination at mine

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Ground Water Quality Bureau received a Stage 1 Abatement Plan proposal from New Mexico Copper Corporation to investigate surface and ground water contamination at the Copper Flat Mine. The facility is located approximately 5 miles northeast of Hillsboro on NM Highway 152.

Water quality monitoring of monitoring wells and an open pit pool at the facility showed concentrations of total dissolved solids (TDS), sulfate, chloride, manganese, and uranium in exceedence of New Mexico ground water standards during past investigations. The depth to ground water at the site ranges from 0 to 50 feet. In a letter to New Mexico Copper Corporation, NMED required that an Abatement Plan proposal be submitted within 60 days of notification.

The Stage 1 Abatement Plan submitted by the company proposes collecting soil, surface water and ground water samples and installing additional ground water monitoring wells to define the extent of soil and ground water pollution.

New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission regulations require responsible parties to remediate surface and ground water pollution. After the investigation is completed, a Stage 2 Abatement Plan proposal will be submitted to NMED. A public notice of the Stage 2 Abatement Plan proposal will be issued by New Mexico Copper Corporation within 30 days of submitting the proposal to NMED.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the Stage 2 Abatement Plan proposal and request a hearing or meeting. NMED will seek written comments from the public within 60 days of determining that the cleanup proposal is administratively complete.

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