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Environmental health investigations branch

Blue Ledge Superfund Site

The Site Assessment Unit conducted a public health assessment to determine potential health, exposure risks, and address stakeholder concerns associated with contaminants at the former Blue Ledge Mine located in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near the California-Oregon border.

An area in Blue Ledge Mine site with mounds of contaminated waste rock and soil

NEW: View our factsheet for recreational visitors who travel in or near Blue Ledge Mine site

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 US 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.

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. We prepared a Public Health Assessment (PHA) report that presents our findings, conclusions, and recommendations. You can view the public comment release of our PHA report (webpage) and find a summary on pages 5-9. We invite the public to provide written comments on our PHA report. The deadline to submit comments is September 7, 2022. See details below.

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) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

-- Public Comment Period --

Read and Comment on our Blue Ledge Mine Public Health Assessment

We invite you to read and comment on our Blue Ledge Mine Public Health Assessment (PHA) webpage. We provide a summary on pages 5-9 of the report. We will respond to all public comments.

All comments and our responses to the comments will be included in the final publication of the PHA. Comments must be written. We cannot accept verbal comments. The deadline to submit comments is September 7, 2022.
Please send your written comments to Beth Saiki:

  • By email: OR

  • By mail: Beth Saiki

                             Environmental Health Investigations Branch
                             California Department of Public Health
                             850 Marina Bay Parkway, Bldg. P-3
                             Richmond, CA 94804

To receive a copy of the PHA report by mail or email, contact Beth Saiki at
or (510) 620-5764.  

Community Outreach, Education, and Engagement

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 and address their health and exposure concerns.

  • Met with a range of stakeholders to identify ways in which recreational visitors may come into contact with contaminants from the Blue Ledge Mine site.

  • Shared our Blue Ledge Mine site public health assessment findings, conclusions, and recommendations with Joe Bar residents and other stakeholders via a mailing and in-person meeting.

  • Provided Joe Bar residents with information on environmental health topics (unrelated to the mine site) that they requested, including a concern about arsenic in drinking water.

  • Prepared a factsheet for recreational visitors on ways to avoid exposure to remaining contaminants on the Blue Ledge Mine site. The factsheet will be disseminated by US Forest Service and other stakeholders.

Cleanup of Site Contaminants

The US EPA and US Forest Service have been responsible for the cleanup work at the Blue Ledge Mine site. Click the US EPA Blue Ledge Superfund webpage for more information.

Click the US Forest Service (PDF, 26MB) to view photos of the removal of contaminated waste from the Blue Ledge Mine site. 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.

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.

  • Guidance on how to test private well drinking water is featured on the EPA website

Arsenic is a naturally occurring contaminant in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Its presence is not related to mining. Drinking water obtained from a private well in this area should be annually tested for arsenic.

NOTE:  Please contact your health care provider if you have a health concern related to possible exposures to contaminants from the Blue Ledge Mine site or elsewhere. Medical providers can find useful environmental health resources on the ATSDR website.

Additional Questions?

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us:

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