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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
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  PIKE HILL COPPER MINE


Map this site in Cleanups in My Community
 Corinth,  Vermont
 Orange County
 Street Address: Pike Hill Road
 Zip Code: 05039
 Congressional
 District(s):

01
 EPA ID #: VTD988366720
 Site ID #: 017J
 Site Aliases:

 Site Responsibility: Federal

 NPL LISTING HISTORY
 Proposed Date 03/08/2004
 Final Date 07/21/2004

Site Description
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The Pike Hill Copper Mine (PHCM) is an abandoned copper mine located off of Pike Hill Road in the Town of Corinth, Orange County, Vermont. PHCM is located approximately 1.5 radial miles northeast of the Village of West Corinth, includes a northern and southern mine, and the total mine property encompasses approximately 216 acres. PHCM is located on Pike Hill, a large hill in a rural and forested area along the eastern flank of the Green Mountains. Mine elevations range from approximately 1,640 feet above mean sea level (MSL), at the southern mine, to approximately 1,965 feet above MSL, at the summit of Pike Hill (near the northern mine).

Copper was discovered on Pike Hill sometime prior to 1847. Initial attempts to mine the ore at Pike Hill occurred in 1847. The northern and southern mines have historically been referred to as the Union Copper Mine, and the Corinth (and later the Eureka) Copper Mine, respectively. The two mines, eventually designated as the Pike Hill Mines, operated on an intermittent basis from 1847 until 1919 when mining operations at the PHCM property ceased. Between 1863 and 1918, approximately 9,085,298 pounds of copper were mined at PHCM.

There are approximately 20,000 tons of mill and mine dumps (tailings), averaging 1.6 percent copper, scattered over the surface of the two mines. At the northern mine, there are two tailings piles and at the southern mine, there are three tailings piles and two mine shafts; several adits are located around the Pike Hill hillside. Each tailings pile consists of brownish-orange colored fine-grained material with rock fragments. There is little vegetative growth on the surface of the piles.

PHCM has been previously investigated by State and Federal agencies, and private companies. As part of the various studies, one or more samples of mine tailings, soil, surface water, and sediment have been collected and analyzed for metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and cyanide. The results indicate metal concentrations that exceed background levels.

Threats and Contaminants
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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 and mobilized. This results in acid mine drainage. Acid mine drainage contributes to an elevated load of metals to Pike Hill Brook and the Waits River. In addition, in October 1993, the Corinth Fire Department was informed that smoke was emanating from the mine fill at the PHCM site. According to the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the smoldering was due to spontaneous oxidation and combustion of reactive sulfides present in the mine fill.

A 1997 VT DEC study of the macro-invertebrate community and fish populations in surface waters near the site documented a significant impact just downstream of the mine; Pike Hill Brook as been listed as an impaired water of the state due to acid mine drainage. The Waits River and the Connecticut River are documented fisheries within the surface water pathway. Based on sediment and surface water samples of the Waits River, inorganic contaminants attributable to the mine are documented within the fishery and pose a potential health risk. The Waits River is designated for recreational purposes.

The area is intermittently used by hunters and for other recreational pursuits, and may pose a threat of exposure via contaminated surficial soils.

In addition, the Eastern Small-footed bat (Myotis Leibii) - a state-threatened species - is located within a 0.25 mile radius of the site. The bat's habitat has been documented to be within the surface water pathway and is, therefore, subject to contamination.

Cleanup Approach
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EPA began preliminary investigations activities in fall 2004 and developed a comprehensive plan for a remedial investigation and feasibility study in 2005. Further studies were performed in 2006 and 2007. The information collected to date is under review to allow for the development of a plan to complete the RI.

Response Action Status
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Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study EPA began the RI/FS at the Pike Hill Copper Mine in 2005. From 2005- 2007, EPA completed a series of investigation programs to define the nature and extent of contamination in the site waste areas and the surface water and sediment downstream of the site. This included a two year study of the site surface water hydrology and stream contamination. In addition, an extensive surface water, sediment, and biota characterization program was implemented in 2007. Investigation activities are expected to continue through 2012.

Environmental Progress
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Investigation activities continue at the site to support the development of a remedial investigation and feasibility study.

Current Site Status
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This site was proposed to the National Priorities List (NPL) in March 2004 and finalized in July 2004. EPA retained the United States Geological Survey to perform a scoping investigation that will further characterize the waste material at the Site. The program will also include surface water and sediment sampling in the area. Surface water, sediment, biological community, and waste assessments were completed during a series of investigation programs that were implemented from 2005 through 2007. Site planning and investigation activities will continue through 2009 and into 2012.

Site Photos
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Links to Other Site Information
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Disclaimer Instructions about PDF

Newsletters & Press Releases:
Press Releases about this project  

Federal Register Notices:
Proposed NPL Listing  

Reports and Studies:
Geochemical Characterization of Maine Waste, Mine Drainage, and Stream Sediments, January 2006 (5.93 MB)  
Preliminary Results of Sequential Extraction Experiments for Selenium on Mine Waste and Stream Sediments from Vermont, Maine and New Zealand, January 2006 (1.19 MB)  
Surface-Water Hydrology and Quality at the Pike Hill Superfund Site, January 2007 (38.5 MB)  
Sequential Extraction Results and Mineralogy of Mine Waste and Stream Sediments Associated with Metal Mines in Vermont, Maine and New Zealand, January 2007 (2.08 MB)  
Draft Conceptual Site Model Technical Memorandum, June 2008 (8.68 MB)  
Aquatic Assessment Report, 2013 (4.49 MB)  

Other Links:
NPL Site Narrative at Listing:  
Site Progress Profile  

Site Repositories
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OSRR Records and Information Center, 1st Floor, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (HSC), Boston, MA 02109-3912 (617) 918-1440


Contacts
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EPA Remedial Project Manager: Ed Hathaway
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Sq., Suite 100
Mail Code OSRR07-1
Boston, MA 02109 - 3912
Phone #: 617-918-1372
E-Mail Address: hathaway.ed@epa.gov

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator: Pamela Harting-Barrat
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Sq., Suite 100
Mail Code ORA20-1
Boston, MA 02109 - 3912
Phone #: 617-918-1318
E-Mail Address: harting-barrat.pamela@epa.gov

State Agency Contact: Linda Elliott
Address: VT Dept. Environmental Conservation
One National Life Drive
Davis One
Montpelier, VT 05602-3704
Phone #: 802-249-5479
E-Mail Address:

 


Serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, & 9 Tribal Nations
 
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Last updated on Monday, November 4th, 2013
URL: http://www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/sites/pikehill