In a development touted by both parties as a cooperative federalism win, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on February 5 signed a Deferral Agreement to ensure cleanup of the Anaconda Copper Mine. Under deferral, cleanup at the mine must achieve the same level of human health and environmental protection as a site on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) and must meet all applicable federal and state requirements. EPA will review whether remedies proposed, selected, and implemented by the state and Atlantic Richfield Company are protective, and will retain responsibility for the operable unit on tribal land.
“The State of Nevada has secured a path forward to restore and reclaim the full Anaconda mine site on a predictable and transparent timeline. Federal, state, local and private partners have worked for more than a decade to reach this agreement,” said Sandoval.
“The Deferral Agreement is a perfect example of cooperative federalism in action,” added Pruitt. “After working closely with the State of Nevada and local stakeholders, EPA decided that Nevada is uniquely equipped to oversee cleanup of the Anaconda Copper Mine.”
Under the Obama Administration, EPA proposed to add the Anaconda Copper Mine to the NPL to make it eligible for federal remedial funds. Atlantic Richfield Company subsequently approached the state and proposed to fund implementation of a site-wide remedy. In July 2017, Nevada requested that EPA defer NPL listing of areas of the mine not on tribal lands, and since that time, EPA has engaged with Sandoval, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, tribes, and stakeholders to complete the necessary agreements to defer the mine from final NPL listing.