Arsenic, lead, zinc and antimony in a national park? Proposed Contaminated Soil Removal at Gold Hill Mill by the National Park Service

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public comment on a proposal to remove contaminated soil from Gold Hill Mill in Death Valley National Park.

The Mercury Amalgamation Plant was used from the 1930s to the 1950s in Warm Springs Canyon at the south end of the park. The mill site includes a well-preserved mill and arrastra. It is easily visited via the unpaved Warm Springs Road and is near a perennial stream.

The environmental scan shows high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, zinc and antimony in the garbage piles and soils at the foundation of the plant. The site may present a risk to the health of people who visit it several times or spend more than fleeting time there. It poses a greater risk to wildlife, exceeding the safe exposures of wildlife to lead, zinc by 202 times and antimony by 327 times by 130 times.

The NPS proposes to remove approximately 50 cubic meters of contaminated soil from the plant’s foundation and the garbage piles. The materials would be disposed of in a duly licensed landfill site. If this action is chosen, more detailed design will be required to minimize the risk of impacts to historic structures, such as the factory.

Public comments are welcome until December 26, 2021. To learn more about the project or to comment, visit

Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional nature, landscapes and learning experiences in the country’s largest preserved desert landscape and some of the conditions most extreme climates and topographies on the planet. About two-thirds of the park was originally designated a Death Valley National Monument in 1933. Today the park is enjoyed by approximately 1,700,000 people a year. The park spans 3,400,000 acres – almost as large as the state of Connecticut. Learn more at

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