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EPA Lists Corinth, Vermont Mine Site to Superfund List
Release Date: 07/22/04
Contact Information: Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008
For Immediate Release: July 22, 2004; Release # 04-07-21
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today added the Pike Hill Copper Mine property in Corinth, VT to the National Priorities List (NPL), known as the Superfund list. The Superfund list is EPA’s list of the country’s hazardous waste sites that have been identified for possible long-term cleanup by the federal government. Superfund makes public funds available to clean up toxic waste sites when private financing is unavailable.
The 216-acre property is one of nine sites added nationally and the only site in New England that was proposed to the NPL in March. There are now 102 sites on the NPL in New England, including 10 in Vermont. Across the nation, there are now 1,245 sites on the NPL.
“Adding the Pike Hill Copper Mine site to the Superfund list means the EPA can now do its part to clean up the site in a way that honors the community’s long-term vision,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “Much of the credit goes to state and local officials who did a tremendous amount of work to get us to this point.”
The listing of the Pike Hill Copper Mine property was supported by town officials, the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources and the governor.
Under the agency’s Land Revitalization Agenda announced last year, EPA made a commitment that revitalization and reuse will now be a formal part of planning at every Superfund site. Nationally, more than 70 percent of all Superfund sites are cleaned up by those responsible for the pollution. Since the beginning of the Superfund program, more than $22 billion in cleanup commitments and funding have been provided by the parties responsible for toxic waste sites.
Pike Hill Copper Mine Site background
More than 9 million pounds of copper was mined from Pike Hill from 1847 until 1919. Some 20,000 tons of mill and mine dumps (tailings), averaging 1.6 percent copper, are scattered over the surface of the 216 acres of the mine. The property includes five tailings piles and two mine shafts as well as several passages around the Pike Hill hillside. The tailings piles are made of brownish-orange colored fine-grained material with rock fragments with little vegetation.
The mine tailings are rich in metals and sulfides. As water passes over and through the tailings, sulfuric acid is produced and the metals within the tailings are dissolved. This results in acid mine drainage and contributes to metals contamination to Pike Hill Brook and the Waits River. In addition, in October 1993, the Corinth Fire Department was told smoke was coming from the mine fill at the site. According to the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the smoldering was due to spontaneous oxidation and combustion of reactive sulfides in the mine fill.
Previous environmental studies of soil, surface water and sediment have documented elevated levels of metals.
A 1997 Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation study of the fish populations in surface waters near the site documented a significant impact from acid mine drainage just downstream of the mine. The site poses a risk to fisheries in the Connecticut River and Waits River, and a risk to a particular species of bat (Eastern Small-footed bat, Myotis Leibii).
For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the nine sites announced today, go to www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm
Pike Hill Copper Mine Site Fact Sheet
Superfund in New England