Abandoned Mines

Investigating How Voluntary Mine Cleanups Can Benefit the Environment and People

Sustainable Conservation evaluated the costs and benefits of voluntary cleanups at abandoned mines in the western U.S. – and produced a case comparison between a voluntary cleanup done in Utah under the federal Good Samaritan Initiative, and a voluntary cleanup proposed in California.

In June 2007, in an effort to advance implementation of the Good Samaritan Initiative, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released interim guidance and a model agreement designed to remove legal liabilities and regulatory constraints that discouraged the voluntary cleanup of abandoned mines.

California’s Department of Conservation estimates that more than 47,000 abandoned mines exist in California, and more than 5,000 present environmental hazards.