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


  • CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: National Conference on Mining-Influenced Waters: Approaches for Characterization, Source Control and Treatment

    EPA is sponsoring a national conference on August 12-14, 2014 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to provide a forum for the exchange of scientific information on current and emerging approaches to assessing characterization, source control, treatment, and remediation of mining-influenced waters. EPA welcomes abstract submissions on topics that include but are not limited to site characterization, prediction and modeling, water treatment, source control/mine closure approaches, and beneficial use. Download the conference flier Adobe PDF Logo for information on submitting abstracts or visit the conference website.
    The abstract submission deadline has been extended to April 11, 2014.

    Registration is expected to open soon. Visit the Training and Events page for up-to-date information on the conference.
  • A recently released study Adobe PDF Logo by the U.S. Geological Survey and EPA found that cleanup activities at Superfund sites around the Upper Clark Fork Basin in Montana have significantly reduced metals and arsenic contamination in area waterways. Remediation activities began in 1983 and included removal of direct tailings and deposits along the stream banks, replacement of native soils, and stream bank re-vegetation and stabilization. Study results suggest that cleanup of abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites can be effective in improving water quality and aquatic ecosystem health.
  • The U.S. EPA Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation recently released a new report that highlights select mining-influenced water (MIW) treatment technologies used or piloted as part of remediation efforts at mine sites. The March 2014 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.

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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