Grantees at the Dartmouth College Superfund Research Program (SRP) got a taste of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site remediation process with a presentation and tour by Ed Hathaway, an EPA Region 1 Remedial Project Manager (RPM). Hathaway led a tour of the Elizabeth Mine Superfund Site in Strafford, Vermont, attended by Dartmouth SRP researchers and research translation and community engagement coordinators.
“This particular site was very complex and required long-term commitment from the EPA and the community,” said Michael Paul, Dartmouth SRP Community Engagement Core coordinator. “In addition to the natural and cultural history of the site, I learned a lot about how Hathaway involved the local community in the risk assessment, remediation process and the final decision.
The Elizabeth Mine Superfund site is an abandoned copper and copperas (ferrous sulfate) mine that covers approximately 850 acres. Mining activities began at Elizabeth Mine in the early 1800s and continued for nearly 150 years. Historic tailing piles and waste piles have become a substantial source of acid mine drainage, resulting in extensive plant and organism die-off in the nearby Copperas Brook. High metal concentrations in the Ompompanoosuc River, more than a mile downstream from the tailing piles, were also noted in the description of the Superfund Site on the EPA Website.
“The site is full of mining tunnels and the waste is such that it is not obviously a problem,” said Laurie Rardin, Dartmouth SRP Research Translation Core Coordinator. “Hathway explained how the EPA had to work hard to educate the local community as to why they were declaring it a Superfund site.”
“Hathaway also used this site to tell us about the bigger story of hazardous waste disposal and remediation in the U.S.,” said Paul. “Unfortunately, like many abandoned sites, the responsible party was not available to provide funding or assist with cleanup efforts; therefore, the burden falls on the federal government to provide funding to protect human health and the environment.”