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EPA, Sandoval Tussling Over Yerington Superfund Designation

Facing a deadline set by federal regulators, Gov. Brian Sandoval said the state needs more time to decide whether to end its long-held opposition to having an abandoned Nevada mine listed among the nation’s most contaminated sites.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials notified Sandoval last month that if they didn’t hear from him by Friday, they’d formally propose placing Yerington’s former Anaconda copper mine on the Superfund’s National Priority List as soon as March.

The World War-II era mine is already a federal Superfund site, a designation that brought federal help with containing the pollution and pinpointing its source. Adding the site to the priority list would make it eligible for federal money to pay for 90 percent of the tens of millions of dollars needed to start cleanup.

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But critics fear the listing would give Yerington and surrounding ranches a black eye.

In a letter to the EPA, Sandoval said he is not yet convinced such a listing is in the state’s best interest given continued opposition from local residents.

They fear an adverse impact on property values and uncertainty over future availability of EPA funds.