Cleanup begins at Empire Mine park |

Cleanup begins at Empire Mine park

Work to clean up the Red Dirt Pile at Empire Mine State Park began this week, but visitors won’t need to change their plans, park officials said.

“This work will have no impact on visitors while underway, because it is in an area that has been fenced off since last fall,” wrote Park Superintendent Ron Munson.

The Red Dirt Pile is a six-acre area about a quarter-mile from the visitor center. Previous mining operations used the site to stockpile waste rock. Elevated levels of metals still appear in the red soil 20 years after workers removed 50,000 tons from the mound.

The California State Parks and Newmont USA Ltd. are cleaning up the site as part of a park-wide environmental assessment and mitigation effort that began last June.

Since then, workers have collected 480 soil samples from trails and erected fencing to keep people out of contaminated areas. Some trails remain closed, park personnel said Wednesday.

When workers finish the Red Dirt Pile project, they will cover the pile of mine waste rock with a synthetic liner to prevent metals in the pile from mingling with stormwater runoff. Park personnel plan to build a parking lot and native plant garden on the site.


To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail laurab@the or call 477-4231.

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