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Revitalization and Reuse of

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Considering the potential future uses of abandoned mine lands is an important part of EPA's
commitment to finding innovative and effective approaches to reducing the potential threats
that these contaminated lands pose to human health and the environment. EPA recognizes that
land reuse often brings economic, environmental, and social benefits to communities, and
also may serve as a catalyst for expediting environmental risk reduction. EPA's Abandoned
Mine Lands Reuse and Revitalization web page includes links to reports, fact sheets and
technical resources related to revitalization of mine lands.

The Mine-Scarred Lands Initiative Tool Kit shares what was learned through the
Federal Brownfields Partnership's Mine-Scarred Lands Initiative by working with six
demonstration projects on hard rock and coal mining sites throughout the country. In
addition to the experiences of the six projects, the toolkit includes links to other mine
cleanup and reuse resources.
Mine Site Cleanup for Brownfields Redevelopment: A Three-part Primer
summarizes the basic issues surrounding mine site cleanup for brownfields
redevelopment, including innovative characterization and remediation approaches.
The Primer includes detailed technical information about the characterization,
remediation, and redevelopment of hard rock and coal mine sites. It is intended for
those with an interest in, and knowledge of the technical aspects of redeveloping coal
mine sites.
EPA developed a series of fact sheets that describe a variety of tools for reuse of
former mining sites. While each of these tools may be applicable to only a small
percentage of the former mine lands throughout the country, given the number of
former mine lands, even a small percentage may represent thousands of actual sites.
Individual fact sheets include:
o Wetland Banking at Former Mine Lands: An Ecological Solution with
Economic Benefits
This fact sheet describes the opportunities associated with reusing former mine
lands to create wetland banks.
o Carbon Sequestration: A Local Solution with Global Implications
This fact sheet is intended for mine land owners, companies, and other
stakeholders interested in exploring the opportunities for using reforestation to
clean up and restore former mine lands and generate carbon sequestration credits.
It examines the requirements and limitations for pursuing mine land reforestation
and sequestration projects and how reforestation projects can fit into emerging
markets for carbon trading.
o Land Conservation and Former Mine Lands: Preserving Natural Land
Resources, Planning for the Future
This fact sheet is intended to educate communities, mine land owners, potentially
responsible parties, companies, and other interested groups about how land
conservation tools can be used as part of an integrated strategy to remediate and
restore former mine lands. It describes available land conservation tools and their
potential benefits and the opportunities and limitations associated with using
different land conservation tools.
o Water Quality Credits at Former Mine Lands: Improving America's Water
Resources, Reclaiming Lost Landscapes
This fact sheet is intended to educate communities, mine land owners, potentially
responsible parties, companies, and other interested groups about how water
quality trading credits can be used as part of an integrated strategy to clean up and
restore former mine lands. It also describes the opportunities and limitations
associated with using water quality trading credits and provides resource and
contact information.
RE-Powering America's Lands- EPA is encouraging renewable energy development
on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when it is aligned with the
community's vision for the site. This initiative identifies the renewable energy
potential of these sites and provides other useful resources for communities,
developers, industry, state and local governments or anyone interested in reusing these
sites for renewable energy development. The site includes a variety of resources,
including mapping tools and data for assessing the renewable energy potential for
sites.
Soil Amendments- Revitalization of a mining site may involve the addition of
amendments to the contaminated soil. Soil amendments are materials added to soils in
order to revitalize and make them suitable for sustaining plant life or development.
Mining sites with contaminated or disturbed soils exhibit a variety of problems that
often can be addressed effectively and directly through the use of soil amendments.
Project managers could evaluate their effects in the subsurface, their potential for
eventual transport to surface waters, and their possible subsequent adverse effects on
plant and animal communities

Cleanup Technologies

A range of traditional and innovative technologies may be appropriate for remediation at


current and former mining sites. EPA's Office of Research and Development's Technical
Support Center (ETSC) provides assistance to EPA regional offices, states, and communities
on the design, function, and application of these technologies. ETSC scientists and engineers
work closely with the Superfund program and other EPA programs that address remediation
of mining sites, and also collaborate with state governments, universities, and private entities
to develop new approaches and remediation technologies for mining wastes.

EPA's Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation's 2014 report, Reference
Guide to Treatment Technologies for Mining-Influenced Water, highlights select mining-
influenced water (MIW) treatment technologies used or piloted as part of remediation efforts
at mine sites. The report includes short descriptions of treatment technologies and
information on the contaminants treated, pre-treatment requirements, long-term maintenance
needs, performance, and costs. Sample sites illustrate considerations associated with selecting
a technology. Website links and sources for more information on each topic are also included.
An online, searchable library lists technologies provided in Appendix A of the guide, which
includes summary information for the technologies discussed in the body of the report, as
well as additional technologies or products designed as passive or low cost treatment options.

The Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council's (ITRC) web-based technical and
regulatory guidance site, Mining Waste Treatment Technology Selection, is a tool for
selecting an applicable technology or suite of technologies for remediation of mining sites.
The guidance uses a series of questions to guide users to a set of treatment technologies that
may be applicable to a particular site situation. The website provides an overview of each
technology with information about its applicability, advantages, limitations, performance,
stakeholder and regulatory considerations, and lessons learned, as well as links to applicable
case studies.

The information below is adapted from the technology overviews on ITRC's Mining Waste
Technology Selection site, with a link to the entry for each technology.

Mining Solid Waste


Capping, Covers, and Grading Capping, or covering of solid mining waste, is an effective
treatment technology that can be used as a short-term, interim measure or as a long-term or
final action. Installation of a cap or cover on solid mining waste can reduce or eliminate
erosion, fugitive dust emissions, and infiltration of water to prevent the migration of
contaminants. A variety of materials is available and the technology can be modified to adapt
to site-specific conditions. Caps and covers can be used alone or with other treatment
technologies. The cap or cover must be maintained to ensure its effectiveness. Institutional
controls also may be required.

Chemical Stabilization Using Phosphate and Biosolids Treatment This technology


addresses soil, sediment, or mine tailings at remote, rural, and urban locations and can be
used for small and large volumes of wastes. Phosphate treatment can be used by itself or with
other technologies as an interim or final remedy. Ex situ treatment is more widely used than
in situ and frequently is applied in conjunction with off-site disposal. In situ treatment has
proven effective at reducing the bioavailability of lead and other heavy metals and providing
a relatively nontoxic growth medium for previously barren mine/mill waste. In situ treatment
has been used in mines as a coating on exposed ore surfaces but the technology has not been
widely used to stabilize lead-contaminated soil in residential settings. Chemical phosphate
treatments use a variety of phosphate species, but phosphoric acid has been demonstrated to
be the most effective. Organic sources of phosphate such as biosolids or composted animal
wastes also are used to stabilize, reclaim, and revegetate barren mine and mill wastes.
Electrokinetics The electrokinetic remediation (ER) process is an in situ soil processing
technology that separates and removes metals and organic contaminants from low-
permeability soil, mud, sludge, and marine dredging. ER uses electrochemical and
electrokinetic processes to desorb, and then remove, metals and polar organics. Targeted
contaminants for electrokinetics are heavy metals, anions, and polar organics. Contaminant
concentrations that can be treated range from a few parts per million (ppm) to tens of
thousands ppm. There have been few commercial applications of electrokinetic remediation
in the United States.

Excavation and Disposal Excavation and disposal of contaminated soil, sediment, or


tailings is an effective and proven technology that usually involves the removal of
contaminated material with heavy equipment. This technology can be modified to adapt to
site-specific conditions. Soil, sediment, or tailings can be removed so that the remaining
contaminant concentrations meet cleanup goals. Excavated soil, sediment, or tailings can be
disposed of either on-site (in an approved repository constructed for this purpose or another
location where the exposure pathways allow the material to be beneficially reused) or off-site
in a permitted disposal facility. Excavation and disposal can be used by itself as an interim or
final remedy or with other technologies.

Passive Technologies Passivation of acid-generating material involves oxidizing or


protecting the sulfide surface from water and oxygen. Techniques for reducing metal sulfide
oxidation involve removing oxygen, water, bacteria, or the sulfide minerals, all of which
contribute to the generation of acid mine drainage. All passivation technologies use a spray-
on application, either as a solution (phosphate) or as a slurry (silica). It is one of the few
treatment methods that can be used to treat exposed pit walls. Although laboratory and small-
scale pilot data are available, this new technology has not been applied on a large scale and
there are very limited data on long-term performance. In addition, several studies have
indicated that there is an initial release of other constituents into the environment when
passivation is applied. Techniques to control and possibly treat this release may be needed
and regulatory approval obtained before releasing these constituents. This technology may be
used alone or with other technologies.

Soil Amendments Cleanup treatments at mining sites may involve the addition of
amendments to the contaminated soil. Soil amendments are materials added to soils to
revitalize and make them suitable for sustaining plant life or development. Mining sites with
contaminated or disturbed soils exhibit a variety of problems that often can be addressed
effectively and directly through the use of soil amendments. Project managers could evaluate
their effects in the subsurface, their potential for eventual transport to surface waters, and
their possible subsequent adverse effects on plant and animal communities.

Mining-Influenced Water (MIW)


Aeration Treatment Systems Aeration is a relatively simple and effective treatment process
in which mechanical introduction of oxygen is used to enhance the oxidation and decrease the
solubility of metals in MIW. Aeration can be used with other treatment technologies and often
is applied together with acid-neutralizing agents, chemical oxidants, flocculants, and settling
basins. The array of aeration technologies can be used at a broad range of sites that vary in
site and flow conditions.
Anoxic Limestone Drains (ALD) ALDs are low-cost, passive treatment systems that can
be used to treat the acidity of MIW under specific geochemical conditions. ALDs are easy to
construct and maintain, and consist of a buried bed of limestone engineered to intercept
anoxic, acidic MIW and add alkalinity through dissolution of the limestone. ALDs can be
used alone, but are more commonly used together with other treatment technologies such as
constructed wetlands. They can be installed in remote locations and utilities are not required
for implementation. The effectiveness of most ALD systems declines over time and they
eventually require maintenance or replacement.

Chemical Precipitation Chemical precipitation is a flexible, permanent technology used to


treat MIW, including acid mine drainage, neutral drainage, and pit lake water. Chemical
precipitation processes involve adding chemical reagents and then separating the precipitated
solids from the cleaned water. Typically, the separation occurs in a clarifier, although
separation by filtration or with ceramic or other membranes also is possible. When chemical
precipitation is used in pit lakes or other water bodies, the precipitated solids can remain in
the bottom of the pool. This technology can be used by itself or in conjunction with other
treatments.

Constructed Treatment Wetlands Constructed treatment wetlands are man-made


biologically active systems such as bogs, swamps, or marshes with saturated soils and at least
periodic surface or near-surface water designed specifically to treat contaminants in surface
water, groundwater, or waste streams. This technology is a valid treatment option for a
variety of waste streams, including MIW, remedial wastewaters, agriculture waste streams,
and industrial waste streams. Constructed treatment wetlands also have also been used for
"wet capping" of solid wastes and are often called "capped mine wastes in a wetlands
setting." Constructed treatment wetlands can be used with other technologies to extend the
operational lifespan of the systems or enhance the removal performance of specific
constituents of concern.

Diversionary Structures Diversionary structures are designed to prevent clean water from
coming into contact with mining solid waste (net acid-producing materials) and to divert
MIW to treatment or collection systems and away from sensitive environments. These
include engineered channels, tunnels, pipelines, or other structures to divert surface water
run-on or MIW runoff; engineered slurry walls, sheet pile walls, grouting, or other subsurface
structures to divert or contain groundwater; and bulkheads and plugs in mine workings to
control influx or discharge of MIW. Diversionary structures can be used to reduce the volume
of, or exposure to, MIW. They also can be used to prevent erosion of mining waste and
transport of soluble metals into surface water.

Electrocoagulation Electrocoagulation refers to a group of technologies that use an


electrical current that coagulates organic constituents and suspended solids in water. The
coagulated organics have the ability to adsorb certain ionic constituents, making it possible to
separate a flocculent with most of the suspended organics and some of the ionic constituents
removed. Another variant of this system oxidizes an iron or aluminum anode to form an iron
or aluminum hydroxide flocculent that can co-adsorb/co-precipitate some ions. The
electrocoagulation process is complex and site- and contaminant-specific. These systems may
be effective in certain niche applications. Detailed bench and pilot studies are required before
implementing the technique.
In Situ Treatment of Mine Pools and Pit Lakes This emerging technology for treating
MIW involves injecting or placing substances (including carbon sources such as molasses or
alcohol with nutrients) or alkaline materials such as lime directly into the mine pool or pit
lake to neutralize the MIW and produce anaerobic conditions to precipitate metals in place.
The addition of a carbon source leads to the formation of a sulfate-reducing bioreactor. Some
metals are less soluble in their reduced form, including selenium, chromium and uranium.
These oxidized metals can be removed from the water as solids. In situ treatment of solid
mining waste in the form of residual minerals in mine walls, tailings, or waste rock involves
the application of amendments such as potassium permanganate, phosphate or biosolids, and
carbon substrate to stabilize the metals in place and reduce the formation of leachate or
inhibit the migration of metals.

Ion Exchange Ion exchange is an often costly, but well-established treatment technology
that involves the interchange (or exchange) of ions between a solid medium and MIW. The
solid medium can be commercially produced or made from naturally occurring substances
(e.g., peat or zeolites). Synthetic organic resins are used predominantly because their
characteristics can be tailored to specific applications. Ion exchange can be applied to
dissolved constituents, cations or anions to treat mine discharges with various flow rates and
can be used as a stand-alone technology or with other treatment technologies. The ability to
regenerate resin and recover metals provides a potential additional benefit of this approach.

Microbial Mats A constructed microbial mat is an aquatic bioremediation system that uses
naturally occurring, living organisms (primarily cyanobacteria) to rapidly remove metals
from MIW. Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic and can be grown like plants, harvested, and
dried until needed. Microbial mats grow rapidly, can survive harsh environmental conditions,
and can tolerate high concentrations of compounds that are toxic to plants or algae. They are
called "constructed" mats because they are grown using a standard technique that is
inexpensive and requires minimal training. Microbial mats can be used as a stand-alone
technology or with other technologies to treat dissolved organic and inorganic constituents,
including a variety of metals, metalloids, radionuclides, and oxyanions, and can treat mine
discharges collected in ponds and slow-flowing leachate. Sunlight intensity is an important
requirement, and, like all biological systems, system performance decreases during winter
seasons.

Pressure-Driven Membrane Separation Technologies Pressure-driven membrane


separation (PDMS) processes are tools used to separate media. Commonly used processes for
treatment of MIW include reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, and microfiltration.
Any of these technologies can be used for surface and groundwater influenced by mining
waste, but the particular tool used depends on the cleanup goal for the site. PDMS processes
use semi-permeable membranes to reduce the concentration of the selected solutes in a feed
solution. They produce a permeate stream containing materials that pass through the
membrane, and a concentrate or waste stream that contains the materials filtered out of the
feed solution. Passage through the membrane matrix is controlled by the application of a
"driving force," which includes mechanical pressure, concentration or chemical potential, and
temperature or electrical potential (Mortazavi 2008).

Mortazavi, S. 2008. Application of Membrane Separation Technology to Mitigation of Mine


Effluent and Acidic Mine Drainage. Mine Environment Neutral Drainage Program (MEND)
Report 3.15.1.
Permeable Reactive Barrier Systems A permeable reactive barrier (PRB) is a continuous,
in situ permeable treatment zone designed to intercept and remediate a contaminant plume.
The treatment zone may be created directly using reactive materials such as iron or indirectly
using materials designed to stimulate secondary processes, such as by adding carbon
substrate and nutrients to enhance microbial activity. With most PRBs, the reactive material is
in direct contact with the surrounding aquifer material. PRBs are designed to be more
permeable than the surrounding aquifer materials, enabling contaminants to be treated while
groundwater readily flows through. (ITRC 2005).

ITRC. 2005. Permeable Reactive Barriers: Lessons Learned/New Directions. PRB-4.


Washington, D.C.: Interstate Technology Regulatory Council, Permeable Reactive
Barriers Team. www.itrcweb.org

Mining-Influenced Water and Solid Waste


Backfilling and Subaqueous Disposal Backfilling and subaqueous disposal technologies
can be effective treatment alternatives for remediation of solid mining wastes and MIW.
Subaqueous disposal involves removing surface material and placing it underground and
underwater, thus eliminating direct contact exposures. Typically, subaqueous disposal is
applied to sulfide-containing solid mining wastes to reduce oxidation, which limits acid
generation and release of metals. Subaqueous disposal also is used to dispose of non-acid-
generating solid mining wastes through backfilling. Solid mining wastes are disposed of into
deep submarine environments, natural lakes, pit lakes, subsidence features, underground
mines, and surface mines. Subaqueous disposal also includes injection of MIW and process
waters into geologic formations below the depth of fresh groundwater, but this has not been
widely practiced.

In Situ Biological Treatment In situ biological source treatment consists of isolating the
source of MIW by establishing an in situ biological layer on exposed metal sulfide surfaces
(Jin et al. 2008b). This is typically accomplished by injecting inoculum (e.g., wastewater
effluent) and substrate into the subsurface material. The in situ biological source treatment
can achieve satisfactory results without the cost of excavation and material handling. The
process typically has two components: (a) developing an anaerobic environment through the
injection and distribution of inoculums and substrates; and (b) forming and maintaining a
biological film that impedes the release of products of iron reduction. A complete analysis of
the MIW and the treatment material, including seasonal and formulation variations, must be
completed before selecting an in situ biological source treatment system. Bench-scale tests
exploring variations in the treatment material and the material to be treated are invaluable
when determining whether an in situ biological source treatment system is applicable and the
type of treatment material that is suitable for the site.

Jin, S., P. H. Fahlgren, J. M. Morris, and R. B. Gossard. 2008b. "Biological Source Treatment
of Acid Mine Drainage Using Microbial and Substrate Amendments: Microcosm Studies,"
Mine Water and the Environment 27(1): 20-30.
Phytotechnologies Phytotechnologies use plants to remediate various media impacted with
different types of contaminants. There are six basic phytoremediation mechanisms that can be
used to clean up mining-contaminated sites: phytosequestration, rhizodegradation,
phytohydraulics, phytoextraction, phytodegradation, and phytovolatilization. These
technologies can be applied to address certain issues associated with mining solid wastes and
MIW, and also can stabilize tailings and act as a hydraulic control for drainage.
Phytotechnologies are a common component of mining reclamation and restoration projects
that establish a plant cover as a final remedy. Establishing phytotechnologies requires careful
selection of plant species and soil amendments. Most phytotechnologies can be applied to
both organic and inorganic contaminants and to soil/sediment, surface water, and
groundwater. Phytotechnologies also can be applied simultaneously to various combinations
of contaminant types and impacted media. Establishment of vegetation can be enhanced by
using native soil or other amendments to offset the often poor growing conditions offered by
the tailings material.

Reuse and Reprocess Technologies Reuse and Reprocessing (R2) technologies are
applicable where mining wastes can be put to cost-effective, beneficial use directly or
following reprocessing or treatment, or where reprocessing of the waste will render it safe for
permanent disposal at the mine site. R2 technologies can be used for remediation of many
types of mine waste. Examples include direct use of chat-pile material as an asphalt
component, reuse of contaminated soil as cover material for site remediation, or use of waste
rock and leach-pad material as construction material, either directly or following treatment or
reprocessing. R2 technologies can be employed almost anywhere and in any climate as long
as a market exists for the beneficial product. The technologies usually are used with mine
waste contaminated with metals, but waste containing other contaminants, such as
radionuclides, cyanide, and certain organic chemicals, also may be suitable. R2 technologies
can be applied alone, but often are applied with treatment technologies that address the
contaminants in the material, making it safe for reuse or conversion into a usable form.

EPA; other government agencies; state, local, and tribal governments; as well as private
entities have successfully remediated and restored numerous current, former, and abandoned
mining areas throughout the United States. This page presents some of these successfully
restored sites as well as sites still in progress. More detailed information about these sites can
be found by visiting the links under each case study.

For a more comprehensive list of abandoned mine lands and abandoned mine restoration
projects, visit the EPA Abandoned Mine Lands program website.
Hard Rock Mines
Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site, Anaconda, MT

Contamination from nearly 100 years of copper smelter operations affected the health and
quality of the environment at the Ancaconda Smelter Site. Estimates indicate that more than a
billion gallons of groundwater were contaminated and thousands of acres of soil were
affected by fluvially transported mine wastes and smelter emissions. The massive 300-
square-mile site area and variable, rugged terrain provided major remedial design challenges.
The innovative site evaluation and assessment techniques, paired with effective remedial
processes such as tilling and adding soil amendments, have helped restore these vital
grasslands and ranch areas. The uplands remediation and ecological revitalization efforts
have served to provide key lessons and replicable assessment techniques for other sites with
area-wide contamination.

View Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site Case Study

Soil Tilling at the Anaconda Smelter Site

Perennial grasses now cover the Site


Silver Mountain Mine, Horse Springs Coule, WA
The Silver Mountain Mine site is an abandoned silver and gold mine that operated from 1928
to the 1960s. In the early 1980s, cyanide was used to extract metals from mine tailings. By
1983, the site was abandoned, and the mine tailings and holding basin, which contained
cyanide-contaminated water, were left behind. A leachate collection trench associated with
the ore extraction was contaminated with cyanide and arsenic.

This site was added to the NPL in 1986. Sodium hypochlorite was used to neutralize the
cyanide in the pond and in the mine tailings. The contaminated water in the leachate
collection trench was then removed from the site. The trench was covered with a liner. In the
1990s, approximately 7,000 cubic yards of mine tailings were consolidated and capped, the
mine entrance was closed, and the site was revegetated and fenced. Deed restrictions were
implemented to protect the cap. The site cleanup was designed to require very little
maintenance. The site was deleted from the NPL in 1997. As of 2008, the cap is in excellent
condition and the fence remains in place. The Washington Department of Ecology will
continue to perform annual inspections and maintenance of the cap.

California Gulch, Leadville, CO


The California Gulch Superfund site consists of about 18 square miles of land where mining,
mineral processing and smelting activities produced gold, silver, lead and zinc for more than
130 years. Wastes generated during the mining and ore-processing activities contained metals
such as arsenic and lead at levels that posed a threat to human health and the environment.
These wastes remained on the land surface and migrated through the environment by washing
into streams and leaching contaminants into surface water and groundwater. The site was
added to the NPL in 1983. To facilitate cleanup, it was divided into 12 operable units, each
with a specific cleanup activity. EPA and the potentially responsible parties conducted
removal and remedial activities to consolidate, contain, and control more than 350,000 cubic
yards of contaminated soils, sediments and mine-processing wastes. Cleanups by the
potentially responsible parties have involved drainage controls to prevent acid mine runoff,
consolidation and capping of mine piles, and slag reuse. By 2011, several of the operable
units at the site were deleted from the NPL. Response actions are complete in most of the
operable units, and institutional controls to protect the remedy and prevent the release of
contaminants are either in place or under development.

View California Gulch Case Study


Source: Mining History Association

Reconstructed entrance to the Yak Tunnel in 2002

Source: EPA

Yak Tunnel (one of two tunnels that drain the historic mining district) prior to construction of the Yak
Water Treatment Plant

Copper Basin Mining District, TN


The Copper Basin Mining District has been heavily scarred by mining activities that
continued from the mid-1800s until the late 1900s. Mining and processing activities centered
on copper and sulfur, and produced solid wastes and byproduct materials that remain on site,
including sulfide-rich ore, sulfide-bearing waste rock, tailings, granular and pot slag, iron
calcine, magnetite, iron concentrate, wastewater treatment sludge, and demolition debris. In
addition, mining and related activities resulted in contamination by metals and
polychlorinated biphenyls, deforestation, and severe erosion.

Several government agencies and private parties have taken steps to stabilize and partially
revegetate the area, including its numerous watersheds. The site is being investigated and
cleaned up through a collaborative effort between the EPA, the Tennessee Department of
Environment and Conservation, and OXY Oil and Gas USA. A wastewater treatment plant
was refurbished on the Davis Mill Creek watershed to treat acid and metal-laden waters of
the creek, underground mine waters, and contaminated stormwater. The plant has removed
over 5 million pounds of iron, zinc, manganese, copper, lead, and cadmium, and neutralized
over 13 million pounds of acid. The Davis Mill Creek watershed also received diversion
systems and upgrades and modifications to existing dams. The North Potato Creek received a
lime treatment plant that removed 90 percent of metals of ecological concern and raised the
pH of the discharge from 3.3 to 7.0. One of the goals for this watershed is to reestablish its
biological integrity. This process is currently in progress.

View Copper Basin Mining District Case Study

Source: EPA

Tree seedlings on the tailings pile (2004)

Source: EPA

Surface Impoundment for the Davis Mill Creek Watershed Wastewater Treatment Plant

Bunker Hill Superfund Site, ID


From 1916 and to the 1980s, lead and zinc were mined and smelted at the Bunker Hill site.
The West Page Swamp was used as a tailings repository for a mill that processed the lead and
zinc ore. The soil in this area contained highly contaminated lead and zinc tailings, materials
so toxic that the swamp showed no evidence of ecosystem function. Following removal of
tailings to a depth of 0.7 meters, a cap consisting of biosolids (including compost, wood ash
and wood waste) was constructed over over the soil. This cap was sufficient to reduce both
accessibility and bioavailability of the underlying tailings and restore ecosystem function,
characteristic of a naturally occurring wetland to the site. The wetland is now fully
functioning and a wildlife habitat.

View Bunker Hill Superfund Site Case Study

Source: Dr. Sally Brown, University of Washington

West Page Swamp area, before

Source: Dr. Sally Brown, University of Washington

West Page Swamp area, after

Coal Mines
TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Fly Ash, Roane County, TN
In December 2008, a dike containing about 20 million cubic yards of coal ash from power
plant operations failed and released over 5 million cubic yards of coal ash into the Emory
River and adjacent land. The spill had significant effects on the community and environment.
Aquatic organisms and shorelines were buried in coal ash. Cleanup was needed to ensure the
protection of human health and the environment. The cleanup process considered ecological
revitalization of the site and surrounding area as an integral part of all response activities. A
team of biologists, landscape architects, and engineers worked together to integrate plantings
and ecological aspects as components of the cleanup activities. An ecosystem was created by
planting a mosaic of forested, scrub-shrub, and emergent wetland plant communities, as well
as native trees and seeds in disturbed areas. Today, there are frequent bird sightings at the site,
including white ibises, cattle egret, and herons.

TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Fly Ash, Roane County, PA

TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Fly Ash, Roane County, PA Site Information

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

TVA Kingston Site Before

TVA Kingston Site After

Yankee-Vukonich Coal Reclamation Project, Colfax


County, NM
Mining from the 1800s until the 1970s produced substantial amounts of coal waste at the
Yankee-Vukonich Coal Reclamation Project site. The majority of the waste was found
dumped down steep slopes and near streams, where it was contaminating both ephemeral and
perennial waterways. Partially collapsed mine entrances also were a major issue.

The reclamation project for the 2.9-acre site was completed in 2005. The goal of the project
was to establish vegetation on coal mass piles to reduce erosion and siltation of downstream
waterways, and to restore the meanders of the stream that had been straightened by sediment
deposition during the active mining period. Revitalization activities included mixing coal
waste with native soil while adding lime, gypsum, wood waste, and compost to support
native vegetation; reseeding at designated areas and areas disturbed by construction; restoring
stream meanders through excavation, filling, and engineered structures; and others. The
project has successfully restored vegetation at the site so that it blends in with undisturbed
areas. In addition, streams have been reshaped to a natural state and historic buildings from
the mining era have been preserved.

View Yankee-Vukonich Coal Reclamation Project Case Study

Source: New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division

Site before Stream Restoration - Yankee-Vukonich Coal Reclamation Project, Colfax County, New
Mexico

Source: New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division

Site after Stream Restoration - Yankee-Vukonich Coal Reclamation Project, Colfax County, New
Mexico
Fishing Run Restoration and Maude Mine Reclamation Project, South Fayette Township, PA

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental


Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Maude Mine Reclamation Project, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

The Fishing Run Restoration and Maude Mine Reclamation Project site was mined from the
1800s through the early 1900s. Large-scale underground mining operations began toward the
end of the 19th century to keep up with energy demand generated by the growing steel
industry in Pittsburgh. The site included an open portal, a partially sealed mine opening,
1,500 feet of hazardous highwall, and numerous dilapidated coal-facility structures. The open
mine portal captured and diverted all of the flow from the upper portion of the Fishing Run
stream. The water captured by the portal flowed through an abandoned mine and then
discharged as acid mine drainage into a major stream.

Specific reclamation and revitalization activities included the demolition, removal, and
disposal of the abandoned coal preparation structures; elimination of the highwall areas
through excavations and fills; and sealing of the open mine portal and a partially sealed mine
opening. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of
Abandoned Mine Reclamation restored Fishing Run to a natural streambed, which is now
lined with over 4,000 trees for stream-bank restoration and establishment of a riparian buffer
zone.

View Fishing Run Restoration and Maude Mine Reclamation Project Case Study

The Swastika Mine and Dutchman Canyon


Reclamation Project
The Swastika Mine and Dutchman Canyon Reclamation Project received a 2012 Excellence
in Reclamation Award from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources
Department's Mining and Minerals Division. The project is located about 4.5 miles northwest
of Raton, New Mexico.
The Swastika Mine was established in 1919 and was mined for coal through 1954. Mine
waste material was dumped directly into the Dillon Canyon stream, which was artificially
straightened to provide room for railroad and loadout facilities. The reclamation project
involved work to safeguard hazardous mine features at the abandoned mine and to restore
meanders of the stream channel. Mine waste piles were moved away from the main stream
channel and reshaped into stable landforms that mimic natural hill slope forms using a
technique called geomorphic reclamation.

The Dutchman Mine is a much smaller mine in a side canyon nearby. Operations began in
1898 and closed in 1906 following a methane explosion that killed ten men at the site. Here,
alkaline drainage from collapsed mine adits were treated using a pond and constructed
wetland. Extensive wetland improvements were made to the reconstructed Dillon Canyon
channel and to an existing evaporation pond that intercepts mine seepage at Dutchman
Canyon.

This is the first large geomorphic reclamation project within the New Mexico Abandoned
Mine Land Program. About 200,000 cubic yards of mine waste and 190,000 cubic yards of
clean fill were moved. Challenges included a high-voltage power line, numerous
archaeological features, construction in a narrow canyon, and a running stream.

View The Swastika Mine and Dutchman Canyon Reclamation Project Case Study

Source: New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division

Geotextile material and trees and shrubs installed onsite

Source: New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division

Mine waste pile being moved offsite


Dents Run AML/AMD Ecosystem Restoration
Project
The Dents Run AML/AMD Ecosystem Restoration Project is a $14.2 million mine
restoration project conducted in the Dents Run watershed in Elk County, Pennsylvania by the
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and partners.

Over 50 years of excavation, underground 'room and pillar' mining, and strip mining for coal
in the 25 square mile watershed had severely degraded the landscape and water quality of
surrounding streams. Highwalls, water impoundments, mine openings, and hundreds of acres
of acid mine spoil required cleanup and revitalization. Because passive or active treatment
alone would be costly and technically difficult to achieve, a combined reclamation and
treatment/abatement effort was undertaken. Between 2002 and 2012, PA DEP closed or
remediated 23 mine openings and regraded ten dangerously steep highwalls that totaled
30,850 feet. More than half a million tons of limestone were mined at the site and used to
neutralize the thousands of gallons of acidic mine water that was flowing through the site
from 14 different discharge points. More than 5,000 cubic yards of waste coal were removed
from the site and used as fuel at a coal-fired power plant, providing electricity to homes and
businesses.

The reclamation project restored and re-vegetated 320 acres of abandoned mine lands that
will now serve as habitat for wildlife, including the state's wild elk herd, which roam the
adjacent Elk State Forest and game lands. Almost five miles of the lower Dents Run stream
also were restored by neutralizing acid mine water. The stream can now support aquatic life
for the first time in more than a century.

View Dents Run AML/AMD Ecosystem Restoration Project Case Study

Sou
rce: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation
Left: Hazardous highwall and highly acidic water impoundment at Dents Run Watershed site PA 3898
prior to reclamation. Right: Aerial view of site PA 3898 after reclamation.

Uranium Mines
Abandoned Uranium Mines, Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is situated on a geologic formation rich in radioactive ores including
uranium. Beginning in the 1940s, widespread mining and milling of uranium ore for national
defense and energy purposes on the Navajo Nation led to a legacy of abandoned uranium
mines. Some Navajo residents may have elevated health risks due to the dispersion of
radiation and heavy-metal contamination in soil and water.

EPA maintains a strong partnership with the Navajo Nation. Since 1994, the Superfund
program has provided technical assistance and funding to assess potentially contaminated
abandoned uranium mine sites and develop a response. In August 2007, the Superfund
program compiled a Comprehensive Database and Atlas with the most complete assessment
to date of all known uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. Working with the Navajo Nation,
EPA also used its Superfund authority to clean up four residential yards and one home next to
the highest priority abandoned uranium mine, Northeast Church Rock Mine, at a cost of more
than $2 million.

In 2008, EPA, in partnership with the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the
Indian Health Service and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, finalized a five-year plan for
cleaning up the abandoned uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. Under the Five-Year Plan,
U.S. EPA works with the Navajo Nation EPA to conduct a tiered assessment of abandoned
mines, identify mines for more detailed assessments, and determine appropriate courses of
action for the highest-priority mines. By the spring of 2010, EPA completed 192 on-site
screen evaluations of abandoned uranium mine sites in the Eastern and Northern abandoned
uranium mine regions and completed more detailed assessments at four additional mines. In
2011, EPA expected to conduct screening-level review and site visits of an additional 134
abandoned uranium mine sites in the Northern and Western abandoned uranium mine regions.
EPA also completed removal assessments for the Skyline Mine and the Northeast Church
Rock "Quivira" Mine.

View Abandoned Uranium Mines Case Study

Uravan Mill Site, Uravan, CO


In September 2008, EPA Region 8 certified the completion of the 20-year, $120-million
cleanup of the Uravan Mill Superfund site in Colorado. The former uranium and vanadium
mine and processing site is located along the San Miguel River in western Montrose County.
The 680-acre site is contaminated with radioactive residues, metals and other inorganic
materials.
During the cleanup, more than 13 million cubic yards of mill tailings, evaporation pond
precipitates, water treatment sludge, contaminated soil, and debris from more than 50 major
mill structures were collected and disposed in four on-site repositories. More than 380 million
gallons of contaminated liquid collected from seepage containment and groundwater
extraction systems were treated at the mill site. The site and surrounding area will be used in
the future for recreation and as a wildlife habitat. One portion of the site will be transferred to
DOE for long-term management, while another will be used as a campground and visitor
center, complete with a museum dedicated to uranium mining and milling in Western
Colorado.

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