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U.S. EPA REGION 5
JO DAVIESS COUNTY
GALENA

Congressional District # 16

BAUTSCH-GRAY MINE

EPA ID# ILN000510407
Last Updated: September, 2013

Site Description

The Bautsch-Gray Mine site is located in Jo Daviess County, approximately 4 miles south of Galena, Illinois, adjacent to South Blackjack Road. The approximately 100-acre site is composed of the surface-area remnants of a former zinc and lead mining operation. The site is located in a rural agricultural and residential area and is bordered to the north, south, and east by residential properties and agricultural land, and to the west by Blackjack Road, further residential properties, and wooded areas. The site is within a half mile of Smallpox Creek and about 1.5 miles of the shoreline of the Mississippi River.

The Bautsch-Gray Mine originated as a lead and zinc mining operation in the 1850s. Throughout the history of the mine, several companies used the area for mining and milling operations. Mining operations on the site ceased in approximately 1975.

The zinc production operations involved the crushing and grinding of mined rock to standard sizes and then separating out the ore. This action left behind waste-piles of leftover rock, called tailings. The elevation of the main waste-pile on the Bautsch-Gray Mine site has been estimated to be approximately 50-90 feet above the surrounding ground surface. Since mining operations have ceased, the mine tailings have continued to erode and migrate toward the residential properties, wetlands, and fisheries near the Mississippi River. The tailings piles have no vegetative covering and are therefore subject to erosion, disturbance, and displacement when weather or other natural or human activities affect them.

EPA placed the Bautsch-Gray Mine site on the National Priorities List on September 17, 2012.

Site Responsibility

The Bautsch-Gray Mine site is being addressed under a combination of potentially responsible party (PRP) and state and federal actions. 

Threats and Contaminants

The mining waste-pile contains elevated levels of zinc, lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals.  The surrounding creeks and draining ditches are impacted from material that erodes from the waste-pile and one residential groundwater well has been determined to have been impacted by the waste-pile contaminants.  Potential human health effects could occur if dermal contact is made with the heavy metals or if contaminated groundwater was ingested.

Cleanup Progress

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) had conducted CERCLA site assessment activities at the Bautsch-Gray Mine site between 1999 and 2001.  In summer 2009, heavy rain events washed mine tailings from the tailings pile over Blackjack Road and onto a nearby residential property. This prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct an emergency removal action to remove contaminated soil from the residential property, manage stormwater, and to stabilize the mine tailings pile.

In 2010, three PRPs entered into an Administrative Order by Consent (AOC) with EPA after an EPA site assessment determined that some residential properties had been directly affected by the release of tailings from the site.

In 2010, after another severe rainstorm resulted in the release of more contaminated mine tailings onto Blackjack Road and adjacent properties, EPA issued a CERCLA unilateral Adminstrative Order (UAO) to the previous AOC respondents for performance of additional removal actions at the site. 

EPA completed the ermergency removal action at the site in October 2012.  In July 2013, EPA initiated an Agency-funded remedial investigation and feasibility study.  Sampling activities are planned to begin in spring 2014, which will lead EPA to determine the nature and extent of contamination from the site. 

Community Involvement

In September 2013, EPA conducted community interviews to assess community interest and concerns related to the site.

Contacts

Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
pamela molitor (molitor.pamela@epa.gov)
(312) 886-3543

 

Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.

 


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