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Elizabeth Mine

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Site Description

The Elizabeth Mine, located in Strafford and Thetford, VT, mined copper and copperas (iron sulfate) from the early 1800's until 1958. Located in a rural area, the mine is surrounded by woods, with undeveloped and residential properties bordering the Site's western margin. When the mine closed in 1958, it left behind 47 acres of tailings (crushed and processed rock), heap leach piles, waste rock, two large open cuts, several ore processing buildings, and almost a mile of underground workings extending from the top of Copperas Hill northward under the West Branch of the Ompompanoosuc River (WBOR). Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) from the mine is polluting the WBOR, which in turn flows into the Connecticut River. AMD forms when sulfur-bearing waste rock and tailings are exposed to air and water, forming sulfuric acid. This acidic runoff dissolves metals, including aluminum, copper, cobalt, manganese, and zinc, which become incorporated into the ground or surface water.

Current Site Status and Cleanup Actions to Date

  • EPA awarded the community a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) and a Redevelopment Initiative grant. The TAG grant helped the community receive independent technical assistance about site decisions. The redevelopment grant helped facilitate an evaluation of future use of the Site.
  • EPA also provided university-based, independent technical assistance through the Technical Outreach Services for Communities program.
  • In September 2002, EPA signed an Action Memorandum for a non-time-critical removal action (NTCRA) that included stabilization of the tailing piles and diversion of surface water/shallow groundwater.
  • From March 2003 to September 2005, EPA initiated a time-critical removal action to stabilize the Tailing Dam and address critical Site drainage issues. As part of that action, EPA:
    • Removed over 30,000 cubic yards of tailing that had eroded from the face of the Tailing Dam and another 60,000 cubic yards of tailing from the Tailing Dam face to create a more stable slope configuration. All of the tailing was re-located to the top of the area of the Site called Tailings Pile 1 (TP-1).
    • Installed a toe drain and horizontal drains to collect AMD along the Tailing Dam.
    • Installed a 900 foot length of 36 inch diameter pipe to divert Copperas Brook around the Tailing Dam.
    • Stabilized the disturbed surfaces.
  • EPA will begin the Phase 1 NTCRA work in 2006 along with the design for the Phase II NTCRA.

Current Funding Status

  • EPA has spent approximately $6.0 million as part of the investigations for the Site. The final cleanup action decision (Record of Decision) is scheduled for Fiscal Year (FY) 2006.
  • EPA has spent approximately $6.0 million for time-critical removal cleanup actions at the Site.
  • In FY 2005, EPA provided $2.4 million for the initiation of the Phase I NTCRA.
  • In FY 2006, EPA provided $500,000 to initiate the design for the Phase II NTCRA.

For more information on the projects at this site, please read the Elizabeth Mine Fact Sheet on the Region 1 Superfund Web site.

Key Accomplishments

  • EPA has provided more than $6.0 million to characterize the nature and extent of the contamination as well as to provide a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG), facilitation services for the Elizabeth Mine Community Advisory Group (EMCAG), and a Redevelopment Initiative grant.
  • EPA provided an estimated $6.0 million to complete a time-critical removal action to stabilize the Tailing Dam. This work was completed in September 2005.
  • EPA provided $2.4 million in funding for Phase I of the non-time-critical removal action including dam stabilization, removal of tailing, and diversion of surface water.


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