Red Dirt Pile cleanup begins at Empire Mine |

Red Dirt Pile cleanup begins at Empire Mine

Work to clean up the Red Dirt Pile at Empire Mine State Park began this week but won’t require visitors to change their plans, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

“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 California State Parks and Newmont USA Ltd. are working on the cleanup project. It is part of a park-wide environmental assessment and mitigation effort that began last June.

Since that time, 480 soil samples have been collected from trails and fencing has been erected to keep people out of contaminated areas. About 1 1/2 miles of trails remain closed, park personnel said Wednesday.

When the Red Dirt Pile project is complete, a synthetic liner will cover the pile of mine waste rock to prevent metals in the pile from mingling with stormwater runoff.

The Red Dirt Pile is a six-acre area located about a quarter mile from the visitor center. The site was used as a stockpile area for waste rock during past mining operations.

Although 50,000 tons of the mound were removed twenty years ago, the remaining red soil contains elevated levels of metals.

A parking lot and native plant garden are also planned for the site.

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