The April 10, 2016 issue of the Stockton Record Newspaper reports the Argonaut Mine in Jackson may be the first mining site in the Sierra Nevada Motherlode to be listed as an EPA Superfund Site. The mine operated from the 1850’s to the 1940’s, with major industrial operations at the mine starting in the 1890’s. Miners at Argonaut eventually sank a angled shaft into the Earth’s crust almost a mile deep. Mine tailings and waste from ore processing left 1 million cubic yards of material tainted with arsenic, lead and mercury within the limits of the city of Jackson. Single family homes and part of the Jackson high school were built on waste rock piles from the mine. Other waste from the mine is now held back by the Eastwood Multiple Arch Dam, which the EPA says is at risk of failure.
There are no commercial organizations responsible for mining still in existence to be held responsible for the mine clean-up. Listing the mine as a Superfund site will make the mine eligible for federal clean-up funds.