proposes two actions to improve New Mexico’s environment
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
took two major actions that will bring significant environmental
benefits to the people of New Mexico.
In the first action, EPA announced a $500
million cleanup plan for the Molycorp Superfund site near Questa.
In the second action, EPA announced a clean air plan which will
significantly protect public health and improve visibility by
reducing pollution at a San Juan County power plant.
EPA’s first action is the cleanup plan, formally
known as a Record of Decision (ROD), for the Molycorp, Inc.,
site. The Superfund site is owned by Chevron Mining Inc. (CMI).
The remedy selected by EPA includes the excavation of contaminated
soil and waste rocks, interception of water draining from waste
rock piles at the mine site, underground mine dewatering and
water treatment, covering contaminated material at the tailings
facility, and treating ground water at the tailings facility.
EPA estimates the clean-up will cost over $500 million and could
reach $800 million. Chevron Mining Inc. is expected to carry
out the clean-up. The site includes an operational mine and milling
facility, a tailing facility and a tailing pipeline running from
the mill to the tailing facility. Contaminated material from
the Molycorp site includes about 328 million tons of acid-generating
waste rock, over 100 million tons of tailing, and acid-rock drainage
at the mine and seepage at the tailing facility. The site is
near Questa, New Mexico.
EPA’s second action is the Federal Implementation Plan proposed
under the Clean Air Act for the San Juan Generating Station power
plant which will significantly reduce harmful emissions and improve
visibility and respiratory health for the surrounding area.
The plant’s operators will be required to install the best pollution-control
technology available for this type of facility, which uses four
coal-fired generating units. The controls are expected to reduce
emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by approximately 83 percent.
In addition to public health benefits, the reduced nitrogen oxides
emissions will also help improve visibility in the area by about
65 percent and decrease by over 80 percent the numbers of days
the plant causes noticeable visibility impairment.