Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:


Health & Environment

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What Are the Risks at the Site?

 Risks and pathways addressed by the cleanup include people ingesting lead-contaminated soil and surface water and eating contaminated fish or other aquatic species from the Big River.

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Contaminant Information


Lead is the contaminant of primary human health concern for OU1 of the Big River Mine Tailings Site, as indicated by previous studies of blood lead concentrations in young children in communities within the mining area.  Young children can be exposed to lead from a variety of sources. Within the Big River Mine Tailings Site, the environmental medium of primary concern is soil contaminated with lead as a result of historical mining and other human activities (e.g., use of mining wastes for construction fill). Children may ingest soil through normal hand-to mouth activities during play outside. In addition,
soil may be tracked into indoor living spaces where it becomes mixed with household dust and subsequently ingested through hand-to-mouth activities.

The effect of lead usually considered to be of greatest concern in children is impairment of the nervous system. Many studies have shown that animals and humans are most sensitive to the effects of lead during nervous system development, and thus the fetus, infants, and young children (0 to 7 years of age) are particularly vulnerable. Lead exposure may cause damage to the maturing brain of young children, causing a variety of health effects including intelligence deficits, behavior and learning problems (for example, hyperactivity), slowed growth, and hearing problems.

The primary media of concern is lead-contaminated soil.  EPA is addressing this exposure route by removing the contaminated soil and replacing the soil with clean backfill and revegetating. 

View a full list of contaminants of concern for this site.

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Performance Measures

EPA uses performance measures to track environmental results at Superfund sites. If you have any questions or concerns about the measures at this site, please contact the site team members listed under Site Contacts.

Read more about Superfund Remedial Performance Measures.

Status at this
Superfund Site
What does this mean?
Human Exposure Under Control No Yes means assessments indicate that across the entire site:
  1. There are currently no unacceptable human exposure pathways; and
  2. EPA has determined the site is under control for human exposure.

No means an unsafe level of contamination has been detected at the site and a reasonable expectation exists that people could be exposed.

Insufficient data means that, due to uncertainty regarding exposures, one cannot draw conclusions as to whether human exposures are controlled, typically because:
  1. Response to the contamination has not begun; or
  2. The response has begun, but it has not yet generated information sufficiently reliable to evaluate whether there are currently any unacceptable human exposure pathways at the site.
Groundwater Migration Under Control Not a Ground Water Site

Yes means EPA reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination. EPA concluded the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized and there is no unacceptable discharge to surface water. EPA will conduct monitoring to confirm that affected groundwater remains in the original area of contamination.

No means EPA has reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination, and the migration of contaminated groundwater is not stabilized.

Insufficient data means that due to uncertainty regarding contaminated groundwater migration, EPA cannot draw conclusions as to whether the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized.

Construction Complete No

Yes means the physical construction of the cleanup is complete for the entire site.

No means either physical construction is not complete or actions are still needed to address contamination.

Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use No Yes means:
  1. All cleanup goals affecting current and reasonably anticipated future land uses of the entire site have been achieved, so there are no unacceptable risks;
  2. All required land-use restrictions or other controls have been put in place; and
  3. The site has achieved Construction Complete status.

No means that one or more of these three criteria have not been met. However, a site listed as no may still have redevelopment occurring on portions of the site and may be eligible for additional redevelopment.

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