Orange water, soil near defunct Arizona mine isn’t a health risk, officials say

Apr 13, 2023, 9:09 AM

(Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Photos)...

(Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Photos)

(Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Photos)

PHOENIX – The orange water and soil spotted recently in the area of a former Arizona mine isn’t an imminent public health risk, state officials announced Wednesday.

Test results showed that the coloration near the former Sheldon Mine in Yavapai County was caused by naturally occurring iron, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said. Iron forms iron oxide, which is orange or red in color, when it is exposed to air.

The department collected four surface water samples and three soil samples in the Sheldon Mine area. Testing for metals (barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver and iron), arsenic, cyanide and pH showed nothing exceeding state standards.

People were still advised to avoid contact with the stained liquid and soil as a precautionary measure.

No remediation action is warranted, ADEQ said.

The presence of the orange liquid and soil was confirmed in the area of Sheldon Road and Midnight Snap Lane near the community of Walker on March 30. Walker is about 10 miles southeast of Prescott in the Bradshaw Mountains.

“Within 24 hours of receiving information from a resident about concerns related to the orange liquid and soil, ADEQ had an inspector on-site to investigate,” ADEQ Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore said in a press release Wednesday.

“Once we confirmed the orange liquid, we immediately coordinated with our local, county and state partners and worked with Yavapai County Emergency Management to post signs to inform the public to avoid the area while we made arrangements to conduct environmental sampling.”

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Orange water, soil near defunct Arizona mine isn’t a health risk, officials say