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November 15-16, 2000 Meeting Minutes

Victorville Office
15428 Civic Drive, Ste. 100
Victorville, CA 92392
(760) 241-6583

South Lake Tahoe Office
2501 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
So. Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 542-5400


November 15-16, 2000


Regional Board members, staff and interested parties participated in a tour of Searles Lake and the IMC Chemicals, Inc. facility in Trona, beginning at 1:00 p.m. on November 15, 2000

Regular Meeting

Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board
Kerr McGee Community Center
100 West California

Mr. Sandel, Chairman, called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. on November 15, 2000.



Beatrice Cooley, Ph.D., Bishop


Jack L. Clarke, Apple Valley

Richard A. Dodge, Ph.D., Ridgecrest

Eugene B. Nebeker, Ph.D., Lancaster

Eric Sandel, P.E., Truckee


Steven H. Blum, State Water Resources Control Board


Harold J. Singer, Executive Officer

Tim Post, Assoc. Eng. Geol.

Robert S. Dodds, Asst Executive Officer

Mary Fiore-Wagner, Env. Spec. III

Hisam Baqai, Supervising WRCE

Greg Cash, Assoc. Eng. Geol.

Cindi Mitton, Chief, Mono/Owens Watershed

Tammy Lundquist, Assoc. Eng. Geol.

Lauri Kemper, Chief, Lake Tahoe Watershed Michele Ochs, Assoc. Eng. Geol.
Jehiel Cass, Associate WRCE Pamela Walker, Exec. Asst
Mike Plaziak, Assoc. Eng. Geol.  


Allen Randle, Molycorp, Inc.

Joseph Harris
Marjorie Mikels
Dr. Mary McDaniel, Occupational Environmental Health Physician
Ruth Lopez
Grace Lester
Ann Bellis
John Moynier, Mammoth Community Water District
Dennis Agee, President, Mammoth Golf Management
Rita Smith
Mark Caywood, Department of Fish & Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response
Denyse Racine, Department of Fish & Game
Kathleen Cox, Bureau of Land Management
James Fairchild, Searles Lake Gem & Mineral Society
Robert Strub, Trona Chamber of Commerce/Municipal Advisory Council
Larry Trowsdale, IMC Chemicals, Inc. (IMCC)
Tom Dodson, IMC Chemicals, Inc.


  2. No one addresses the Board during the public forum.

    Minutes of the Regular Meeting of October 12-13, 2000 in South Lake Tahoe will be considered at the January 2001 meeting

    Items 5 and 7 had late revisions.

    Motion: Moved by Dr. Nebeker, seconded by Mr. Clarke and unanimously carried. to adopt the Consent Calendar as proposed, incorporating the changes to Items 5 and 7 in the late revision sheets..


  5. Public Hearing - Rescission of Cease and Desist Order No. 6-00-21, which require Avocet Tungsten, Inc., to provide financial assurance for its Pine Creek Operations Mill Waste Discharge, Inyo County
    No one testified during the hearing.

    Motion: Moved by Mr. Clarke, seconded by Dr. Nebeker and unanimously carried. to rescind the Cease and Desist Order as proposed.


  6. Sierra Star Golf Course - Use of recycled Wastewater from Mammoth Community Water District Within a Waste Discharge Prohibition Area Identified in the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region, Mono County
    Michele Ochs, Associate Engineering Geologist, gave the presentation. The following issues were discussed:
    • Determination of whether the Murphy Gulch drainage is a surface water
    • Basin Plan waste discharge prohibitions for the project area
    • Design storm calculations and retention basin design for the project

    John Moynier, Mammoth Community Water District, stated his support of Board staff's conclusions.

    Dennis Agee, President, Mammoth Golf Management, expressed his appreciation of staff participation and direction.


  7. Consideration of a Request by IMC Chemicals, Inc. to Amend the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region to Remove Four Surface Water Beneficial Uses for the Searles Valley Hydrologic Area, San Bernardino County
    Jehiel Cass, Associate WRCE, and Hisam Baqai, Supervising WRCE, gave the staff presentation as follows:
    • Background
    • IMCC's position
    • Board staff evaluation of REC-1 and REC-2 uses
    • Board staff evaluations of SAL and WILD uses
    • Beneficial use considerations

    Larry Trowsdale, IMCC, thanked the Board for their participation in the tour of Searles Lake and the IMCC facility. He asked the Board to establish the true and actual beneficial uses of the lake.

    Tom Dodson reviewed IMCC's rationale, relating why the REC-1, REC-2, SAL and WILD uses on Searles Lake should be de-designated, while acknowledging that small areas along the western shore of Searles Lake bed provide wildlife habitat. As reference, he cited a report prepared by Ecological Research Associates.

    Robert Strub, Trona Chamber of Commerce/Municipal Advisory Council, stated his support of IMCC's request.

    James Fairchild, publicity chairman for the Searles Lake Gem and Mineral Society, stated that an annual gem show does not constitute REC-1 usage.

    Kathleen Cox, Geologist, Bureau of Land Management, commented that as a surface management agency of federal mineral leases, REC-1 and REC-2 are not viewed as existing usages.

    Denyse Racine, Wildlife Biologist, Department of Fish and Game, stated her support in retaining SAL, WILD and REC-2 designations at Searles Lake. She informed the Board of a year long study which commenced in September 2000, including results of observations to date, that would determine bird use throughout the four seasons.

    Mark Caywood, Department of Fish and Game, discussed the species of birds observed resting on Searles Lake.

    Rita Smith, a former IMCC employee, commented on the lack of scientific information available as to the effects of the discharge on both people and birds.

    Joseph Harris discussed the state and federal lands that surround the Ridgecrest area.

    The item was continued to November 16, 2000 at 8:30 a.m.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 p.m.

Regular Meeting, Continued
8:30 a.m. November 16, 2000

Mr. Sandel, Chairman, called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m. on November 16, 2000. Board members present: Jack L. Clarke, Beatrice Cooley, Ph.D., Eric Sandel, P.E., Eugene B. Nebeker, Ph.D., Richard A. Dodge, Ph.D. Board members absent: None.

    Ruth Lopez stated her desire to see the vacant positions on the Board filled.

    Grace Lester voiced her concern that issues of water quality were brought to the Board after contamination had already occurred. She used her survival of chromium six as an example.


  1. Consideration of a Request by IMC chemicals, Inc., to Amend the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region to Remove Four Surface Water Beneficial Uses for the Searles Valley Hydrologic Area
    Harold Singer drew the Board's attention to the report referenced by Mr. Dodson, which states that the four beneficial uses are appropriate for the entire area of the lakebed.

    Board members individually expressed their reservations about de-designating any of the beneficial uses for Searles Lake at this time. However, Board members acknowledged the unique nature of the percolation and dredge ponds. Based on these statements, Harold Singer indicated that he would not proceed with a formal Basin Plan amendment addressing de-designation of beneficial uses for the entire lake, but would work with IMCC to consider possible changes in the beneficial uses of the pond areas. He indicated that the ponds in existence are not natural, but constitute artificially created waste ponds, and from this premise future discussions would take place with IMCC.

    Larry Trowsdale, IMCC, stated his intent to withdraw the petition pending before the State Board
    as well as the current item before the Regional Board.

    Item 14 was withdrawn from the agenda.

    Note: Board members met in closed session on November 16, 2000 from 9:35 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. to discuss Item 19(c) and (d). Authority: Government Code Section 11126(e)(2)(C)(i).

  2. Resolution of Appreciation fro Richard Dodge for Service as Board Member

    Motion: Moved by Mr. Sandel, seconded by Dr. Nebeker and unanimously carried. to adopt the resolution.


  3. Molycorp, Inc., Mountain Pass Mine and Mill Site, North Tailings Pond (P-16), San Bernardino County
    Tim Post, Associate Engineering Geologist, gave the staff presentation, which covered the following:
    • Molycorp's proposal for interim operations
    • Description of revised WDRs
    • Rationale for approving proposal
    • Water quality issues at Mountain Pass
    • Public comments/concerns

    Allen Randle, Molycorp, Inc., related historical background of the Mountain Pass facility as well as future goals. In summary, Mr. Randle asked the Board to adopt the staff recommendation as proposed.

    In response to Board member questions, Dr. Mary McDaniel, Occupational and Environmental Medicine Physician, discussed the methods used in monitoring for radioactivity among employees at the Mountain Pass facility.

    Ruth Lopez expressed her view that the project under consideration is new and not an 'expansion' of an existing facility. She discussed the history of the Mountain Pass facility, including ground water contamination and the associated health risks to people in the area. She urged the Board to delay approval until the Environmental Impact Report and Molycorp's 30-year Plan are completed and reviewed.

    Grace Lester stated her concern over the contamination of water and the resulting health problems.

    Ann Bellis voiced her concern that by approving the revised waste discharge requirements, further groundwater contamination would occur. She asked the Board to postpone the decision pending results of the Health Risk Assessment and Environmental Impact Report.

    Marjorie Mikels asked the Board to continue the matter until the Health Risk Assessment and Environmental Impact Report are available.

    Motion: Moved by Dr. Nebeker, seconded by Dr. Dodge and unanimously carried. to adopt the staff recommendation as proposed.

  4. Executive Officer's Report
    • Class V Injection Wells - Mr. Singer stated his intent to meet with municipalities regarding the installation of monitoring wells to determine the fate of material placed in the dry wells. The results would determine whether regulation is necessary.
    • Two items added to the Status of Standing Items Report-
      1. Bi-monthly status report updating regarding beneficial use issues at Searles Lake
      2. Bi-monthly report on status of monitoring and cleanup at Molycorp, including health concerns
    • Date preference for spring WQCC meeting

  5. Reports by Chairman and Board Members
    • Mr. Clarke thanked staff for the information on injection wells.
    • Mr. Sandel complimented staff on the IMCC presentation.

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m.


Prepared by: ___________________________________ Adopted: 1/11/2001

Pam Walker, Executive Assistant