[Federal Register Volume 60, Number 91 (Thursday, May 11, 1995)]
[Pages 25243-25245]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 95-11645]



Bureau of Land Management
[CA-066-00-5440-10-ZBBB; CACA-30079; CACA-25594; CACA-3192]

Proposed Land Exchange and Rights-of-Way for Eagle Mountain Non-
Hazardous Municipal Solid Waste Landfill and Recycling Center

Agency: Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, Palm 
Springs-South Coast Resource Area, Desert District, California.

Action: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.


Summary: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) of 1969 and 40 CFR 1508.22, notice is hereby given that the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the County of Riverside (County) 
will prepare a joint Federal Environmental Impact Statement/County 
Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for a proposed land exchange and 
rights-of-way with Kaiser Eagle Mountain, Inc. (Kaiser) for a proposed 
Class III non-hazardous, municipal solid waste landfill and recycling 
center at the Eagle Mountain mine site in Riverside County, California. 
The landfill would be operated by Mine Reclamation Corporation (MRC).
    In the proposed land exchange, BLM would acquire from Kaiser 
approximately 2,846 acres of land that include areas containing 
important habitat for the desert tortoise (a federally listed 
threatened species) and habitat supporting the desert pupfish (a 
federally listed endangered species). The acquisition of these offered 
private lands would benefit BLM's biological, cultural, scenic, and 
resource management goals and programs.
    BLM would transfer to Kaiser approximately 3,481 acres of public 
land, much of which is disturbed from past mining operations and is 
subject to unpatented mining and mill site claims currently held by 
Kaiser. Kaiser would lease this land together with other lands 
necessary for the landfill to MRC for use in developing and operating a 
Class III non-hazardous, municipal solid waste landfill and recycling 
center (Landfill).
    Kaiser is also applying for the conversion of a legislatively 
approved railroad right-of-way (granted to Kaiser for rail and road 
access to the mine site for mining purposes) to a 26.8 mile right-of-
way grant pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
(FLPMA) of 1976 for rail and road access to the site. Kaiser also is 
applying for a new 6.75 mile right-of-way [[Page 25244]] pursuant to 
FLPMA to allow road access via existing Eagle Mountain Road to the 
site. The new FLPMA right-of-way is proposed to be issued jointly to 
Kaiser and the Metropolitan Water District. The proposed new FLPMA 
right-of-way to Kaiser would supersede the existing legislative right-
of-way to allow use of the rail and road for landfill purposes.
    The site also would be used for rail and equipment maintenance, 
landfill gas recovery and utilization, flare/energy recovery, and 
leachate processing. Alternatives to the current proposal will be 
considered in the EIS/EIR.

Supplementary Information: The project site is Kaiser's open iron mine 
located in the Eagle Mountains in eastern Riverside County, California. 
The site is located approximately 10 miles north of Interstate Highway 
10 and Desert Center, approximately 170 miles east of Los Angeles, and 
approximately 50 miles west of the Arizona border.
    MRC has leased from Kaiser the lands necessary for the Landfill and 
a 52-mile private railroad for the Landfill for a period of 100 years. 
MRC proposes to use approximately 4,564 acres of the leased area for 
the Landfill facility site, of which about 2,262 acres would be for 
actual landfilling. The proposed railroad right-of-way traverses public 
land from Ferrum to the mine site. Before refuse is delivered to the 
project site, it will be processed through a transfer station or a 
Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) as near as practicable to the sources 
of refuse production in Southern California. At the transfer station or 
MRF, which will not be owned or operated by MRC, refuse will be 
screened for hazardous substances, sorted for recyclables, compacted, 
and loaded into closed shipping containers. The closed containers will 
be transported to the Landfill site by train or in some cases by truck. 
MRC plans to have the Landfill operational in 1997.
    Initially, MRC expects to receive approximately 3,000 to 4,000 tons 
of waste per day. Over the first 10 years, this daily volume is 
expected to reach 12,000 tons per day. The peak waste flow of 20,000 
tons is not expected to be reached until at least 20 years into the 
operations, with 18,000 tons per day being transported by rail and a 
maximum of 2,000 tons per day being transported by road. The waste 
would be placed in and around the existing open mining pits at the 
site. The estimated total capacity of the proposed Landfill is 
approximately 670 million tons.
    The project would be developed to meet stringent state and federal 
regulations and guidelines for municipal solid waste landfills. The 
entire area underlying the refuse would be lined with a composite liner 
overlain by a leachate collection and removal system. At no time would 
refuse be placed upon or against unlined native material. Other 
environmental monitoring and control systems to be constructed would 
include: groundwater monitoring wells, leachate collection and 
treatment system, drainage systems, and landfill gas control and 
recovery systems.
    In conjunction with the development of the Landfill, Kaiser would 
redevelop the Eagle Mountain Townsite (Townsite) located near the 
Landfill site. The Townsite consists of residential and commercial 
buildings and infrastructure as well as an operating community 
correctional facility. Although the Townsite was once populated with 
nearly 3,700 people, the current Townsite population has decreased to 
approximately 220 people.
    The Eagle Mountain Landfill and Recycling Center project was 
previously evaluated in a Joint EIS/EIR prepared by the BLM and the 
County. A Notice of Intent for the prior EIS/EIR was published November 
15, 1989 (See 54 FR 47581). The County certified the EIR portion of the 
joint document on November 3, 1992, and the BLM issued its Record of 
Decision (ROD) for the Project on October 20, 1993. Appeals were filed 
with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) as a result of the BLM's 
approval of the project.
    In December, 1992, three lawsuits were filed in state court 
challenging the adequacy of the EIR under the California Environmental 
Quality Act (CEQA). In September, 1994, a state court judge issued a 
Writ of Mandate to the County finding the EIR inadequate in specified 
areas and requiring further environmental review to be undertaken by 
the County. As the County was preparing to initiate a new round of 
environmental review to address the deficiencies identified by the 
state court in its Writ of Mandate, BLM requested that the ROD be 
remanded to the BLM to facilitate undertaking joint environmental 
review with the County pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA). The IBLA has now remanded the matter to the BLM to allow 
for further environmental review.
    BLM has agreed to again prepare a joint NEPA/CEQA environmental 
document in cooperation with the County. The new document will include 
review of potential environmental impacts from the anticipated 
improvements to the Townsite, located adjacent to the Landfill site. 
The County will concurrently process land use applications for the 
Landfill and the Townsite.
    BLM has responsibility for the environmental review being conducted 
pursuant to NEPA and will ensure appropriate review in accordance with 
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing 
NEPA, pertinent guidance contained in the Department of Interior Manual 
on Environmental Quality (DM 516), and the BLM NEPA Handbook (H-1790-
1). The environmental document will be developed by a third party 
contractor approved by BLM. BLM will maintain overall responsibility 
for preparation and review of the document.

Dates: Four public scoping meetings will be held on consecutive days at 
the following times and locations:

9 a.m-12 p.m. May 31, 1995: Council Chamber, City of Palm Desert, 73-
510 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert, California
6 p.m.-9 p.m. May 31, 1995: County Service Area #51, Clubhouse, 26251 
Parkview, Desert Center, California
9 a.m-12 p.m. June 1, 1995: Riverside Raincross Convention Center, 
Community Room, 3443 Orange Street, Riverside, California
6 p.m.-9 p.m. June 1, 1995: Ramada Inn, San Jacinto Room, 3885 West 
Florida Avenue, Hemet, California

    Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. for the morning meetings and 5:30 
p.m. for the evening meetings.
    Public participation is an integral part of the review process. 
Comments are being requested to help identify significant issues or 
concerns related to the proposed action to determine the scope of the 
issues (including alternatives) that need to be analyzed, and to 
identify and eliminate from detailed study the issues that are not 
significant. All comments recommending that the EIS/EIR address 
specific environmental issues should contain supporting documentation 
and rationale. Written comments must be submitted no later than 30 days 
from the date of this notice to the following address: Ms. Julia 
Dougan, Area Manager, Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South 
Coast Resource Area Office, 63-500 Garnet Avenue, North Palm Springs, 
California, 92258-2000.

For Additional Information Contact: Dr. Joan Oxendine, BLM, Palm 
Springs-South Coast Resource Area, P.O. Box 2000, North Palm Springs, 
CA 92258-2000, telephone 619-251-4804.

     [[Page 25245]] Dated: May 5, 1995.
Julia Dougan,
Area Manager.
[FR Doc. 95-11645 Filed 5-10-95; 8:45 am]