Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

ELIZABETH MINE
STRAFFORD, VT

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The Elizabeth Mine is an abandoned copper mine located on Mine Road in the village of South Strafford, which is part of the town of Strafford in Orange County, Vermont. The area consists of two mine tailings piles, one area of waste rock and heap leach piles, two open-cut mines, several adits (horizontal mine entrances), underground shafts and tunnels, ventilation shafts, and several former ore processing buildings as well as other on-site structures. Following site investigations, cleanup and environmental monitoring are ongoing. Deposits at the Elizabeth Mine were discovered in 1793. The mine operated from the early 1800s until its closure in 1958. The ore was initially valued for its iron content, and then its pyrrhotite content from which copperas (iron sulfate) was produced. Circa 1830, the deposit was primarily exploited for its copper content based upon the recognition that a significant amount of chalcopyrite (copper iron sulfide) was disseminated in the pyrrhotite. For nearly a century, intermittent production came from the open-cut mine as underground work did not begin until 1886. During early mining operations, several copper smelters were built on the site. Between 1830 and 1930, about 250,000 tons of ore were mined, from which about 10.5 million pounds of copper were produced. From 1943 to 1958, three million tons of ore were mined, producing more than 90 million pounds of copper. All mining operations ceased in February 1958.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal and state actions.

 

 

 

The Remedial Action for the Site is based upon the September 2006 Record of Decision (ROD) and the 2008 Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD). The Remedial Action has one operable unit with five components that are being implemented as three separate phases.

Phase 1 Remedial Action: Copperas Factories. This cleanup action was completed in 2010.

Phase 2 Remedial Action: Lord Brook Source Areas: This cleanup action is in the remedial design phase.

Phase 3 Remedial Action: Site-Wide Groundwater, Sediment, and WWII-Era Infrastructure Area. This cleanup action is in the remedial design phase.

Other response actions at the Site also include a Non-Time-Critical Removal Action (NTCRA) and a Time-Critical Removal Action (TCRA). A Time-Critical Removal Action to stabilize the tailing dam was implemented in 2003 and completed in 2005. The initial Action Memorandum for the NTCRA was signed in September 2003. The NTCRA began in 2006 and has three phases.

Phase 1 NTCRA: The Phase 1 NTCRA was implemented from 2006-2010. The Phase 1 NTCRA activities included the construction of about 6,000 linear feet of surface water diversion channels; a 1,150-linear foot shallow groundwater diversion trench; and an interim water treatment system.

Phase 2 NTCRA: The Phase 2 NTCRA began in 2009 and is ongoing. The Phase 2 NTCRA activities include: excavation and consolidation of approximately 400,000 cubic yards of waste rock; installation of a cover system over Tailing Pile 1 (TP-1) and Tailing Pile 2 (TP-2); construction of 300 linear feet of surface water diversion channels; continued operation of the interim water treatment system; and restoration of areas disturbed by the NTCRA activities.

Phase 3 NTCRA: The Phase 3 NTCRA involves the construction of a passive treatment system to remove iron from the leachate discharging from TP-1. The Phase 3 NTCRA has been designed but not yet implemented.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Current site activities include the inspection of the completed cover system for the tailing impoundment and the buttress at the tailing dam.  Monitoring of the surface water and groundwater continues.  EPA will continue to treat the discharge from tailing impoundment 1 (TP1) using an active treatment system until the passive treatment system is constructed and functioning. 

 

EPA has implemented removal and remedial actions to address the contamination identified at the Site. The lead contaminated soil that was identified in the ROD is either beneath a two-foot stone cover or beneath the multi-layer cover system installed on TP-1. The buttress and toe drain/horizontal drain system are functioning as intended to stabilize the tailing dam. The NTCRA surface water diversion channels and cover system are also functioning as intended to minimize the generation of acid mine drainage. The water levels within the tailing impoundment are declining and the leachate generation has experienced a steady decline. In addition, the waste rock consolidation under the cover system has resulted in a substantial decrease (greater than 90%) in the copper concentrations in the surface water of Copperas Brook.

EPA is working to implement the cleanup for the Lord Brook Source Areas and to develop the final groundwater use restrictions for the Site. The implementation of the cleanup action for the Lord Brook Source Areas will address the contamination in the tributaries to Lord Brook.

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.

Institutional controls are required for this site.
 
This site requires ICs because a decision document, such as a Record of Decision, has documented some level of contamination and/or remedy component at the site that would restrict use of the site. These ICs are required to help ensure the site is used in an appropriate way and that activities at the site do not damage the cleanup components. These ICs will remain in place for as long as the contamination and/or cleanup components stay on site. The matrix below is a general summary of the restrictions at this site at the date of this report. The information in this matrix is a general description of the restrictions at the site only. The site contacts should be consulted if there are questions on the ICs for this site.
 
The following IC Instruments provide media-specific use restrictions that have been implemented by EPA for protecting human health, the environment and remedial engineering on this site. Instruments are documents used by EPA or other organizations to implement the use restrictions at a site. To know about other media-specific use restrictions that are planned but not implemented at this site, please contact the Regional Office using the Site Contact listed above. Note that where multiple entries occur, it will impact more than one pathway.
 
Click here for IC Instruments implemented for this site.

To contact EPA regarding Institutional Controls and/or activity and use limitations, please complete this form.

ICs are generally defined as administrative and legal tools that do not involve construction or physically changing the site. Common examples of ICs include site use and excavation restrictions put in place through State and local authorities like zoning, permits and easements. ICs are normally used when waste is left onsite and when there is a limit to the activities that can safely take place at the site (i.e., the site cannot support unlimited use and unrestricted exposure) and/or when cleanup components of the remedy remains onsite (e.g., landfill caps, pumping equipment or pipelines). Effective ICs help ensure that these sites can be returned to safe and beneficial use.
 
Disclaimer: This information is being provided by EPA as an informational tool to further assist the public in determining the types of restrictions that may be in place at National Priorities List sites being addressed by EPA under the Superfund program. In addition to the areas addressed by the institutional controls identified on this web site there may be other areas on the property that require restrictions on use of the property that are not captured in this EPA database. States and other entities may have implemented laws or restrictions applicable to this site. The information provided herein does not replace a title search or meet "All Appropriate Inquiry" requirements. U.S. EPA encourages users to review the Site files to obtain information regarding remedy components, containment systems and the land use for which cleanup standards were selected for these sites. More information and links can be found in the Institutional Control instrument collection of document, above, and the EPA regional offices may also be contacted.

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