Arsenic, lead, zinc, and antimony in a National Park? Removal of contaminated soils proposed at Gold Hill Mill By National Park Service

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service (NPS) seeks public feedback on a proposal to remove contaminated soils from Gold Hill Mill in Death Valley National Park.

The mercury amalgamation mill was in use from the 1930s through the 1950s in Warm Springs Canyon in the southern end of the park. The mill site includes a well-preserved mill and arrastra. It is easily visited via the unpaved Warm Springs Road and is near a perennial stream.

Environmental analysis shows high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, zinc, and antimony in the waste piles and the soils at the mill’s foundation. The site can pose a health risk for people who visit repeatedly or spend more than a passing amount of time there. It provides a greater risk to wildlife, exceeding wildlife’s safe exposures to lead by 130 times, zinc by 202 times, and antimony by 327 times.

The NPS proposes to remove about 50 cubic yards of contaminated soils from the mill foundation and waste piles. The materials would be disposed of in an appropriately licensed landfill. If this action is selected, more detailed design will be necessary to minimize risk of impacts to historic structures, such as the mill.

Public comments are welcome through December 26, 2021. To learn more about the project, or to comment, visit

Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. About two-thirds of the park was originally designated as Death Valley National Monument in 1933. Today the park is enjoyed by about 1,700,000 people per year. The park is 3,400,000 acres – nearly as large as the state of Connecticut. Learn more at


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David Dennison
David Dennison
9 days ago

If the old fashion mill and mining operations from the 1930’s left their garbage and contaminants behind for others to eventually have to deal with and clean up,can you only imagine what these new proposed mining operations that keep trying to spring up would do to the land,environment and wildlife… Read more »

8 days ago
Reply to  David Dennison

There have been lots of laws and regulations since the 70’s that require mines to recover their sites and require financial assurances to guarantee they do so. It is under our local control. Modern mining recovery is not comparable to the old days.

Man from Mono
Man from Mono
13 days ago

50 cubic yards of soil is not a lot of soil. Ten 5 yard dump trucks full would do it. Kudos to the Park Service for wanting to clean up this mess.