Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

ELY COPPER MINE
VERSHIRE, VT

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The Ely Copper Mine Superfund Site is an abandoned copper mine located in Vershire, Orange County, Vermont and encompasses approximately 350 acres where historic mining activities took place, including about 30 acres of waste material containing an estimated 172,000 tons of waste rock, tailings, ore roast beds, slag heaps, and smelter wastes.  The Site also includes over 3,000 linear feet of Underground Mine Workings along with the associated shafts and adits.  No buildings remain at the Site.  Remnant foundations, pads, and stone walls, including a 1,400 foot long smoke flue, demark the location of former Site structures including a former flotation mill and the smelter plant.  The Site has been determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by EPA in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). 

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal and state actions.  EPA completed the initial investigations and signed a Record of Decision for Operable Unit 1 in 2011.  Operable Unit 1 will address the most significant sources of acid mine drainage by consolidating the waste rock, tailing, and contaminated sediments into an on site containment cell that will be covered to minimize contact with water and oxygen.  EPA completed additional investigations and signed a Record of Decision for Operable Unit 2 and Operable Unit 3 in June 2016.  This cleanup actions will address the release of acid mine drainage from the Main Adit, Deep Adit, and Pollard Adit.  It will also create groundwater use restriction to prevent consumption of contaminated groundwater contained within the underground workings.

Currently, Dwight Hill Forest, LLC. and Green Crow Corporation own the site property. Parts of the property are managed for commercial timberland.

The design for the OU1, OU2, and OU3 cleanup actions were completed in September 2019.  These cleanup actions will begin once funding is available.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

 

The site’s long-term remedy included consolidation, placement and covering of waste rock piles in a containment cell, and removal of contaminated sediments in Ely Brook and two small ponds and restoration of these areas. Investigations and cleanup planning for the site’s underground tunnels and the former smelter/slag area are ongoing. Land use restrictions placed on the site in 2012 prevent residential development of contaminated areas and prevent consumption of contaminated ground water.

The Bureau of Mines also conducted an experimental biological treatment system of mine drainage at the site in 1995. A portion of the drainage stream was passively treated with manure, compost, wood chips and limestone, which served as a bacterial sulfate reduction system to precipitate metals. This treatment system consisted of five 32-gallon barrels in series that intercepted flow in the mine drainage stream. In addition, water samples from the system and two mine drainage streams were collected monthly. In 1995, the treatment system continued to remove metals and sulfate, add alkalinity and increase the pH of the mine drainage.

EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 2001.

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