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Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields

Photos/Multimedia

View of the main pit area of the Barite Hill Main Pit in 2007.

View of the main pit area of the Barite Hill Main Pit in October 2008.

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SCN000407714
Location: McCormick, McCormick County, SC
Lat/Long: 33.8711, -082.2972
Congressional District: 03
NPL Status: Proposed: 09/03/08; Final: 04/09/09
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil
Cleanup Status: Early Action Initiated/Completed and Study Underway - Physical cleanup activities have started.
Human Exposure Under Control: EPA is working to determine
Groundwater Migration Under Control: There is insufficient data to determine
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: None
Site Manager: Candice Teichert (teichert.candice@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields site includes an area where Nevada Goldfields conducted mining operations from 1991 until 1995. Nevada Goldfields pursued site reclamation activities from 1995 until filing for bankruptcy in 1999. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2009 because of contaminated ground water, soil, sediment and surface water resulting from mining operations. EPA and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. By conducting site investigation and cleanup activities, EPA and SCDHEC continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 795-acre site is located between U.S. Route 378 and U.S. Route 221 on the northern side of Road 30, approximately three miles south of McCormick in McCormick County, South Carolina. Forested and agricultural land as well as former mining areas and rural residential areas surround the site. Residential areas near the site include low-income and minority residents.

From 1991 until 1995, Nevada Goldfields conducted gold and silver mining operations at the site. Mining operations crushed ore and placed it in large heaps on plastic-lined surfaces called pads. Operations then applied a dilute solution to the surface of the heaps, which dissolved the gold and silver as it trickled through the heaps. Operations used seven processing ponds and one sediment pond to collect and process the solution that contained the gold. After the mine closed, the 10-acre Main Pit began to fill with water. At its highest, the Main Pit contained approximately 60 million gallons of highly acidic water with high dissolved metals content. Nevada Goldfields conducted mine reclamation activities from 1995 until 1999. EPA listed the site on the NPL in 2009. The site is not in use.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water, soil, sediment and surface water that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from operations at the site. Contaminants of concern include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, zinc and cyanide.

Contamination affected surface water and sediment in Hawe Creek and its tributaries. Contamination in Hawe Creek posed a threat to people who eat fish from the Hawe Creek fishery as well as a nearby drinking water reservoir. EPA cleaned up the contamination and addressed these threats.

In 2011, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry completed a public health assessment for the site.

As part of the site’s risk assessment, EPA considered children’s health issues.

EPA has posted signs around the site’s boundary to deter trespassing.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA leads site investigation and cleanup activities in cooperation with SCDHEC.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 2007, EPA signed an Action Memorandum, which authorized interim cleanup activities.

In 2011, EPA began the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study. After  completing the study, EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan to address any  contamination and related risk to people and the environment. After receiving  input from SCDHEC and the community, EPA will issue the final cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD).

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Cleanup Progress

In 2007, EPA conducted a site evaluation and several interim response cleanup activities, including demolition of an on-site furnace building and on-site neutralization of over 2,000 pounds of acids and bases. EPA also began additional cleanup activities, including designing a cap to place over 250,000 cubic yards of acid-producing waste rock adjacent to the Acid Pit Area.

In 2008, EPA began neutralizing and treating wastes in the Acid Pit Area. EPA completed grading and capping activities of the north and south waste rock piles as well as construction of a spillway.

EPA installed an advanced monitoring system to monitor the waste rock cap and the Acid Pit Area in 2009.

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Enforcement Activities

EPA is using federal funds for site cleanup activities.

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Community Involvement

EPA is working with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts have included public notices, interviews and information meetings. EPA also held a public meeting at the McCormick Chamber of Commerce in 2011. Representatives from EPA also attended the annual Gold Rush Festival to distribute site fact sheets and meet with community members.

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Future Work

In 2012, EPA plans to complete the site’s remedial  investigation/feasibility study and begin designing the cleanup plan for the site.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

McCormick County Library
201 Railroad Avenue
McCormick, SC 29835

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