Blue Ledge Mine Superfund Site
The Site Assessment Unit conducted a public health assessment to determine potential health and exposure risks associated with contaminants at the former Blue Ledge Mine located in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near the California-Oregon border.
New Factsheet: How to safely recreate in the Blue Ledge Mine area (PDF)
The Blue Ledge Mine site was a copper and zinc mine that operated from 1904 to 1930. It is roughly 500 acres and lies on a steep mountainside. In 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) classified the former mine as a Superfund site. The U.S. Forest Service and US EPA removed several thousand tons of contaminated waste rock and soil and built a drainage system to capture and clean up the remaining acid mine drainage contamination. No one lives on the site, but it is visited for recreational hiking. A small community known as Joe Bar, lies three miles north of the site.
Public Health Assessment
The Site Assessment Unit investigated whether people living near or visiting the Blue Ledge Mine site could be harmed by past, present, and (to some extent) future exposures to contaminants from the site. CDPH examined potential exposures from metals in surface soil, sediment, air, surface water, fish, homegrown vegetables, and drinking water. We prepared a Public Health Assessment (PHA) report (PDF) that presents our findings, conclusions, and recommendations. We invite the public to review and provide written comments on our PHA report. The deadline for our public comment period is September 21, 2022.
The Site Assessment Unit conducts its health investigations under a cooperative agreement between the California Department of Public Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).Community Outreach and Education
The Site Assessment Unit conducted community outreach, education, and engagement activities to support Joe Bar residents and visitors who recreate on or near the Blue Ledge Mine site. Our team:
Met with residents of Joe Bar to collect their health and exposure concerns.
Met with various stakeholders to identify ways in which recreational visitors may come into contact with contaminants from the Blue Ledge Mine site.
Shared our public health assessment findings, conclusions, and recommendations with Joe Bar residents and other stakeholders via a mailing and an in-person meeting.
Provided Joe Bar residents with information on environmental health topics (unrelated to mine site) that they requested, including a concern about arsenic in drinking water.
Prepared a factsheet on how to safely visit and recreate on or near the Blue Ledge Mine site. The factsheet is being disseminated by U.S. Forest Service and other stakeholders.
Cleanup of Site Contaminants
The US EPA and U.S. Forest Service have been responsible for the cleanup work at the Blue Ledge Mine site. The US EPA Blue Ledge Superfund webpage provides additional information. To view photos of the removal of contaminated waste from the Blue Ledge Mine site, view these slides from the U.S. Forest Service (PDF, 26MB). The site required extensive remediation, in part due to the potential impact of acid mine drainage into the Applegate Reservoir.
Health Information Resources
The primary exposure and health concerns for the Blue Ledge Mine site are heavy metals (mostly copper) and acid mine drainage. Below are health information materials on these contaminants.
- Factsheet on copper (English and Spanish)
- Overview of acid mine drainage
Residents who get their drinking water from a private well should test their well water every year for heavy metals and other contaminants. This recommendation is unrelated to the mine but important to health.
- Resources on how to test private well drinking water
Arsenic is a naturally occurring contaminant in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Its presence is not related to mining. Private well drinking water in this area should be tested annually for arsenic.
- Factsheet on arsenic (English and Spanish)
NOTE: Please contact your health care provider if you have health concerns related to possible exposures to contaminants from the Blue Ledge Mine site or elsewhere. Information to guide medical providers is available on this ATSDR webpage on environmental health.
If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us: