U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division
Characterization, Cleanup, and Revitalization of Mining Sites

This website provides site managers, regulatory agencies, consultants, and the general public with information on technologies and resources related to the assessment, characterization, cleanup, and revitalization of current and former (active, closed, and abandoned1) mining sites.

Mining Sites Spotlight


  • Registration is open for Mine Tailings Fundamentals: Current Technology and Practice for Mine Tailings Facilities, a two-part webinar in OSRTI's CLU-IN Mining Webinar Series, to be presented May 19 and 20 1:00-4:00 Eastern Time. Each session is designed with time for presentations and interaction with the participants. Part One (Tuesday, May 19) covers topics related to mine tailings facilities, including design features, siting, operation, and maintenance. Examples will be presented to discuss issues that arise during the operation of tailings facilities and how to prevent them. Part Two (Wednesday, May 20) focuses on best management practices for mine tailings facilities and decommissioning mine tailings piles. Most of this webinar will address considerations for final covers used in closing tailings facilities, including cover design, performance, and operation and maintenance. Instructors are: Jim Kuipers, Kuipers & Associates; Bill Albright, Desert Research Institute; and John Hillenbrand, EPA Region 9.
  • The complete archives of earlier webinars in OSRTI's CLU-IN Mining Webinar Series, including the December 17, 2014 webinar on Water Treatment: Iron Mountain Mine and Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund Sites and the November 17, 2014 webinar on Mining Remediation and Sustainability are available. Visit the CLU-IN Archived Internet Seminars & Podcasts page to view these and hundreds of other archived internet seminars available for free download and replay.
  • The March 15 issue of RE-Powering News contains an article on "Renewable Energy on Contaminated Lands (RE on CL)—Mine Lands," with information about the Bagdad Mine in Yavapai County, AZ, which features a 15-MW solar installation comprising more than 71,000 single-axis tracking photovoltaic modules. Re-Powering News is published by EPA's RE-Powering America's Lands program, which has catalogued a number of active and defunct mine sites being used for renewable power generation.
  • A new report from U.S. EPA's Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation's highlights select mining-influenced water (MIW) treatment technologies used or piloted as part of remediation efforts at mine sites. The Reference Guide to Treatment Technologies for Mining-Influenced Water Adobe PDF Logo 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. The Reference Guide to Treatment Technologies for Mining-Influenced Water fact sheet Adobe PDF Logo provides more detail on the information included in the report. A searchable database of 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, also is available.

Overview

EPA regulates three general categories of mining activities: hardrock mining, non-metals mining, and coal mining. Regulation of the mining sector involves every major EPA program. For example, EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance handles issues related to management of mineral processing wastes, while EPA Regional offices use statutory authority granted by the Clean Water Act to regulate coal, hardrock and non-metals mining activities through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits program. The EPA Superfund Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program identifies ways to protect human health and the environment using regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to address contamination at abandoned mine sites. This may include Superfund remediation, voluntary cleanups, emergency responses, and cleanups leading to redevelopment and land revitalization. To coordinate the risk reduction and cleanup of abandoned mine lands, the AML Program works directly with other federal agencies, tribes, states, communities, and mine operators on research, characterization, cleanup, and redevelopment-related activities. The AML Program is coordinated through EPA's National Mining Team and Abandoned Mine Lands Team, which together serve as a focal point for coordinating and facilitating national technical, policy and process issues with stakeholders on abandoned/inactive mine research, characterization, cleanup and redevelopment activities.

Other federal government agencies involved in the management of mining sites include the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) (Mineral Materials Program and Abandoned Mine Lands Program), the U.S. Forest Service (Minerals and Geology Management), the National Park Service (NPS) (Mining Operations Management and Abandoned Mineral Lands Program), and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) (coal mine regulation and abandoned mine land reclamation). Federal agencies also have access to the Superfund program for removal or remedial actions. The Superfund program can be used when a significant environmental or public health threat is imminent, or where a site poses an environmental threat and no potentially responsible party can be found. Because ownership of lands on which mining sites exist ranges widely, management of these sites is a complex issue. State mining agency websites may contain more in-depth information on the number of mining sites and the total area they occupy within individual states. Links to state mining programs can be found through the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration resource area.

1 Information on the types of abandoned mining sites that exist across the United States and site ownership issues can be found through the U.S. Government's Abandoned Mine Lands Portal.

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