Cherokee mine cleanup ordered

The state Regional Water Quality Control District last week ordered a small Cherokee sand mine to clean up a messy water runoff.

The mine, run by Oroville mining company Mineral Resources, is only about two miles from the proposed Advanced Mineral Technologies mine in the tiny historic town of Cherokee. Members of the Cherokee Preservation Society, already on alert to the environmental damage they fear from the much larger AMT mine, noticed the muddy runoff from the Mineral Resources mine and notified the Regional Water Quality Control Board in early January, which sent an inspector to check it out.

Environmental Scientist Mary Randall said the damage wasn’t “the worst I’ve seen” but that it was severe enough to warrant a formal cleanup-and-abatement order, requiring that the mine clean up its act.

The violation stemmed from muddy water runoff from the mine that occurred only during storms, flowing along the ground and eroding small-plant life, Randall said. When it reached the area’s many natural streams and rivers, she said, the accumulated sediment was settling at the river bottom and threatened to smother migratory fish and aquatic life that lay eggs there.

Mineral Resources could not be reached for comment, and the company’s listed phone number was disconnected.

Randall’s cleanup order doesn’t close the mine down but requires it to come up with a comprehensive plan to avoid any further storm runoff. The first report is due on Friday, Feb. 15.