Historic mining site in Nevada closed due to elevated mercury levels
BISHOP, Calif., July 6, 2023 — Inyo National Forest has closed the B&B Mine and Mill Site (Site) located on the eastern edge of the forest boundary in Nevada, due to elevated levels of mercury found in surface soils and mine waste that pose a risk to human health and the environment. The B&B Mine and Mill Site was a quicksilver (mercury) mine discovered around 1925 outside the town of Dyer, Esmerelda County, Nevada within the White Mountain range at 7,940 feet. The 58-acre site is entirely on National Forest System Lands.
The Forest has been conducting site investigation and characterization efforts at the mining site pursuant to its delegated authorities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) since 1998 to evaluate the impact of historic mining activity on the surrounding environment and the associated risk to human health and the environment.
During the most recent 2021 investigation, elevated mercury concentrations were detected that are known to present a health hazard to site visitors and the recreating public. Further, historic mine features remain on Site, which present physical safety hazards to the public.
A Forest Closure Order was instituted on December 7, 2022, restricting public access to the Site for the purpose of preventing exposure to site contaminants. This Forest Order provides for public safety and restricts use of the Forest Service Road 2N06 to only pass-through access. Persons in enclosed vehicles may still traverse the road to gain access to the other side, provided they stay inside their vehicles and do not exceed the speed of 5 miles per hour to minimize dust particles causing the contaminants to become airborne.
Since the snow has melted, Inyo National Forest staff have just installed closure and warning signs to visually notify those who enter the area.
Forest Orders webpage: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/Inyo/ForestOrders
The Forest Service will be conducting additional site investigation efforts at the B&B Mine and Mill Site to determine the extent of contamination and to develop future site restoration and remediation plans over the next several years.
For more information about the Site, including the site investigation work conducted to date, please view the B&B Mine and Mill Site Administrative Record located at the Supervisor’s Office at 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200, Bishop, California 93