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11:00 PM Tue, Nov. 20th

Dewey-Humboldt to formulate position on possible Superfund designation

DEWEY-HUMBOLDT - Late next week, the Town of Dewey-Humboldt will send residents a letter about the federal government's plan to list the Iron King Mine and smelter as Superfund cleanup sites.

Superfund is the Environmental Protection Agency's program to clean up the nation's worst hazardous waste sites.

During its regular meeting Tuesday night at Humboldt Elementary School, the council also agreed to schedule a town hall gathering on July 31 where the public can discuss the matter with town officials.

At a special July 10 town council meeting, Environmental Protection Agency Section Chief Mike Montgomery said his agency has recommended the broad federal cleanup for the town's contaminated sites.

However, he added, the town and the State of Arizona, specifically Gov. Janet Napolitano, ultimately must decide whether a Superfund designation is the most appropriate course of action.

In a June 27 letter to Napolitano, EPA regional administrator Wayne Nastri imposed a July 20 deadline for a response from the governor.

But Town Manager Roger Swenson said Tuesday that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is seeking a deadline extension for Napolitano's decision until the town takes a position.

After hearing public comments from its town hall meeting, the council plans to announce its formal position at its mid-August work session.

The council subsequently will tell the state and the federal government what it wants to do.

In 2003 and 2004, ADEQ officials inspected the mine and smelter area for the EPA. ADEQ's studies of the mine and smelter concluded that arsenic and other metals have contaminated the soil, sediments, surface water and groundwater severely at those sites.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

• Mayor Earl Goodwin said he expects that Northern Arizona University will begin distributing the town's General Plan public survey questionnaire to all adult residents of Dewey-Humboldt by next week.

The questionnaire package that NAU assistant professor Jim Sell prepared will include a cover letter and a postage-paid return envelope.

"It's the primary collector for the General Plan's formation," Goodwin said. "I urge everyone to complete the survey, so they (NAU) can do the (analysis) work by the end of August."

• The council will conduct a specital meeting on the town's fiscal year 2007-08 budget today at 3 p.m. inside town hall, 2735 S. Highway 69.

Goodwin said members of the public may provide their comments on the budget as the process moves toward completion.

During its next regular meeting Aug. 7, the council will have a public hearing about the final budget before considering a motion to approve.

Contact the reporter at dcook@prescottaz.com