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EPA Adds Elizabeth Mine to Superfund List

Release Date: 06/14/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office (617-918-1014)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today added the Elizabeth Mine in South Strafford, Vermont, to the National Priorities List (NPL), commonly known as the "Superfund List". The National Priorities List is EPA's list of the country's most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites identified for possible long-term cleanup. Adding a site to the Superfund List establishes that EPA will oversee and manage cleanup of the site, and makes federal funds available when private financing is unavailable.

"Adding the Elizabeth Mine to the Superfund List is a credit to the Elizabeth Mine Community Advisory Group, who did a tremendous amount of work to get us to this point," said Ira W. Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "I'm glad that we at EPA can now do our part to clean up the site in a way that's consistent with the community's long-term vision."

"The Elizabeth Mine Community Advisory Group is pleased that the Elizabeth Mine site has been included in the National Priorities List of Superfund sites and will be considered for funding for a potential remediation," said Scott Stokoe, current chair of the Elizabeth Mine Community Advisory Group (EMCAG). "Now that the site is listed, we at EMCAG will continue to work with the EPA and the State of Vermont to seek a creative, balanced and effective resolution."

"I know how actively involved the local community has been in the decision-making process for the Elizabeth Mine site," said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. "I am pleased to see the site become a model for how the EPA works with, and listens to, communities facing the challenges of mine site restoration."

The Elizabeth Mine Community Advisory Group consists of 10 member organizations representing a diverse cross section of the community. EPA has been working with the group since early in 2000 to create cleanup strategies and timelines that meet community concerns with respect to cleanup strategies, future site use, and historic preservation.

The Elizabeth Mine is an abandoned copper mine on about1400 acres in rural Vermont. EPA estimates that there are more than 2 million tons of metals and sulfides-rich tailings on 42 acres of the property. Rainwater leaches metals out of the tailings resulting in elevated levels of iron, aluminum, manganese, copper, zinc, and nickel in the waters of Copperas Brook and the West Branch of the Ompompanoosuc.

EPA has collected surface water and sediment date along with plant and animal studies to develop a preliminary understanding of the extent of the mine impacts. EPA has also sampled several nearby residential water supplies. One of these water supplies was found to contain levels of metals above safe drinking water standards. All of the other wells sampled met primary drinking water standards.

EPA is continuing to evaluate the site and develop short- and long-term clean-up plans for the site. Throughout investigations, planning and the cleanup process, EPA will continue to work with the EMCAG and other stakeholders.

Two other sites in New England were added to the NPL today: the Sutton Brook Disposal Area (also known as Rocco's Landfill) in Tewksbury, Mass.and the Nuclear Metals, Inc. site (also known as the Starmet site) in Concord, Mass. Additionally, EPA proposed adding the Ely Copper Mine in Vershire, Vt. to the NPL.