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Mercury contamination in Clear Lake a legacy of mining

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Standing on a bluff overlooking Clear Lake, it’s possible for Elem Indian Colony elder Jim Brown III to envision a time more than 10,000 years ago, when humans first arrived and settled the area.
“We are the oldest tribe classified as Pomo ever created,” the tribal historian said, explaining there were large geysers and hot springs close to the lake “where our people did our sweats. Thousands traveled to the place.”
But what was once an area of spiritual significance is today a toxic dump. For more than a century, an abandoned mine named Sulphur Bank has leached tons of mercury into Clear Lake and poisoned not only the food chain and the fish the tribe traditionally relied on, but possibly the people, too.
Fifteen years and several cleanup operations after it was made a high priority by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sulphur Bank still defies efforts to stop the contamination.
This spring, the EPA expects to complete a feasibility study describing its latest evaluation and possible cleanup method that will be available for public review and comment.
Clear Lake is a poster child for mercury contamination, but is not unique. The state has identified roughly 150 “mercury impaired” reservoirs including Lake Sonoma, Lake Mendocino, Lake Berryessa and Lake Pillsbury. Even Spring Lake in Santa Rosa is on the list for future study, due to concerns about mercury levels in fish.
Read more at: Mercury contamination in Clear Lake a legacy of mining | The Press Democrat