The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 3, 2013

Planning continues for mine waste project in Newton County

By Roger McKinney

GRANBY, Mo. — A project to move mine waste from five locations in Newton County to a repository south of Granby might start in late spring or early summer, according to an Environmental Protection Agency official.

Preliminary discussion about developing the area into a prairie when the work is finished in four years also has taken place, said Steve Auchterlonie, EPA manager of the cleanup project in Newton County.

“Funding for the project has been a challenge recently,” Auchterlonie said, referring to the political situation in Washington. “It had been our hope to complete the project in as short a time as possible. Because of the funding concerns, it’s going to be done in stages. It’s going to take four years to complete all the work.”

The waste is from lead and zinc mining during the 20th century. It will be moved from the five former mining sites to county-owned land on the southern edge of Granby.

Auchterlonie said that after the mine waste is moved, it will be topped with layers of clay and topsoil, and the site will be planted with vegetation.

“It’s going to be between 110 and 120 acres,” he said. “There’s a large volume of material. We didn’t want to create a mountain out there, which is why it covers such a large area. It’s still going to be higher than the normal elevation.”

Auchterlonie and representatives from the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources a few weeks ago met with the Newton County Commission about the idea of creating a prairie at the repository. Auchterlonie said the state agencies plan to use funds received from the mining companies responsible for the waste to make the improvements.

He said the county commissioners responded positively to the idea.

Commissioners’ questions about lane use restrictions couldn’t immediately be answered, but Auchterlonie said in his Wednesday phone interview with the Globe that similar projects elsewhere prohibit only residential development.

Waste volume

STEVE AUCHTERLONIE, EPA manager of the Newton County mine waste project, said about 2.5 million cubic yards of waste are involved in the Granby repository.