The Science at the Leviathan Superfund Site

The March meeting will feature a joint presentation by Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the science that has and is being done at the Leviathan Superfund site in Alpine County.  In addition there will be a discussion on what qualities/skills the ABC would like to see in the new Carson District Ranger.

The Leviathan Mine was an open-pit sulfur mine that operated in the 1950’s without regard to best practices at the time, and it has had a serious detrimental impact to waters downstream including Leviathan and Bryant Creeks, and to a lesser extent the East Fork Carson River.  Efforts to mitigate the damage have been carried out since the early 1980’s and have had a major improvement in water quality, although the final remediation is still to be done.  Neither ARCO nor the California Regional Water Quality Control Board – Lahontan Region (Lahontan), the two responsible parties for the cleanup, created the problem.  There has been some excellent science done at the Leviathan, and this will be an opportunity to learn about it from the experts.

Leviathan Mine Superfund Site activity has included ongoing seasonal early response actions (ERAs) since the early 2000s.  Monitoring of insects and water in downstream surface waters shows that the seasonal ERAs have improved and continue to improve environmental conditions downstream.  While the downstream conditions have improved since the 1990s, a remedial investigation (RI) and feasibility study (FS) is in progress to identify additional cleanup activities including increasing the acid drainage treatment and/or storage on-site to minimize remaining water quality impacts, and to reduce site risks to acceptable levels.  Atlantic Richfield and California Regional Water Quality Control Board representatives will describe ERAs and RI/FS activities and the U.S. EPA will present the insect and water monitoring.

Presenters will include the following:

Mike Johnson is a Principal Civil Engineer with Copper Environmental Consulting providing project management and technical expertise in the areas of water treatment, mine remediation and Civil Engineering.  Since 2011, Mike has worked on the operations and maintenance of the Leviathan Mine Site providing effective project coordination, compliance assurance, engineering and technical support.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer in two states and has over 15 years’ experience on heavy civil and water treatment projects throughout the western United States.  He holds a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from Montana State University.

Marc Lombardi’s resume was not available at press time.

California Regional Water Quality Control Board’s presenter was not available at press time.

Dr. Ned Black studied microbiology at UC Davis and environmental engineering, biogeochemistry, and aquatic ecology in the Division of Applied Sciences at Harvard University.  Throughout his career his focus has been applied biology in an engineering context.  He also studied groundwater contamination and was a lecturer in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at Stanford University and has worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco since 1994.  For most of that time he has been the Regional Ecologist working in the Superfund program.  In that role he covers both aquatic and terrestrial ecology in habitats ranging from tropical reefs to high altitude forests.  He seizes every opportunity to engage in aquatic bioassessment of contaminated streams and rivers and, in pursuit of that goal has picked up a fair bit of fluvial geomorphology over the years.

In addition to the presentation on the Leviathan Mine, there will be a discussion on what qualities/skills that the collaborative feels would be important for the new Carson District Ranger to have.  The suggestions will be compiled into a summary and forwarded to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.  It is hoped that those of you that care about our community’s relationship with the Forest Service will bring constructive ideas to the meeting.

The March meeting is scheduled for Tuesday March 5th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.


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