Government backing for an ambitious mine cleanup and redevelopment project in Henderson continued to take shape today in Washington.
The Bureau of Land Management at a U.S. Senate hearing called for minor modifications to a bill that would convey 948 acres of what once was the Three Kids Mine to the Henderson Redevelopment Agency.
Today the abandoned manganese mine along Lake Mead Parkway contains deposits of lead, arsenic, asbestos and other toxics in deep open pits and disposal areas. The Henderson agency has entered an agreement with a developer to clean up the federal acreage and 314 acres of adjoining land that was once part of the mine.
The legislation by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., calls for the federal land to be appraised against the cost of the cleanup that initial estimates say could be between $300 million and $1.3 billion depending on the methods that might be necessary to remove the toxic materials. By that measure, the land could be given to Henderson for free.
Lakemoor Development LLC would perform the cleanup in exchange for rights to develop the property afterwards into a neighborhood and business district.
Reid said Thursday the project will turn a community eyesore to productive use "without costing a dime for taxpayers." Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said Henderson's strategy is "an innovative solution to a longstanding problem."
At the hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, BLM deputy director Mike Pool said the agency supported the aim of the bill to clean up the property and put it to use.
But Pool asked that the bill be amended to make it clear the government does not sign over the land to Henderson until after all the appraisals and cleanup estimates have been completed. There was no immediate reaction from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who led the hearing.
The bill now moves to a yet-to-be scheduled vote in the Senate committee. It has been passed by the House Natural Resources Committee and is awaiting a vote in that body.