JACKSON (AP) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is adding a historic gold mine in Northern California to the nation's worst toxic sites list, allowing for a permanent cleanup of the site.
The EPA said Wednesday adding the Argonaut Mine, in the town of Jackson, to the Superfund program's National Priorities List releases federal funds to begin full-scale efforts to decontaminate the 65-acre area west of Highway 49.
The hard rock gold mine operated from the 1850s to 1942.
The agency says the now-defunct Argonaut Mining Company processed ore and disposed of tailings, which are waste materials from mines, on the site. The area, contaminated with high levels of arsenic, lead and mercury, is close to homes and a junior high school.
The EPA says that last year it cleaned up the highest levels of contamination at eleven homes and a vacant lot, and installed protective covering at the junior high school.
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