USGS identifier

U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2004-1248

Published 2004
Online Only
Version 1.0

Geochemical Characterization of Mine Waste at the Ely Copper Mine Superfund Site, Orange County, Vermont

Nadine M. Piatak, Jane M. Hammarstrom, Robert R. Seal II, Paul H. Briggs, Allen L. Meier, Timothy L. Muzik, and John C. Jackson


The abandoned Ely copper mine in the Vermont copper belt was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) National Priorities List (NPL) on September 13, 2001. Acidic drainage from the mine enters Ely Brook and has a major effect on the aquatic life. Ely Brook then flows into Schoolhouse Brook and eventually joins the East Branch of the Ompompanoosuc River approximately 2.8 km downstream from the site. Currently, the USEPA is carrying out a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) at the site to determine the nature and extent of contamination and to assess the potential threats to human health and the environment. Also, USEPA is performing a historical resource assessment to determine if the Ely mine is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. To aid in the RI/FS, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a study of the mine-waste piles at the Ely mine Superfund site. To determine the extent of contamination at the site, the investigation focused on answering the following questions:

(1) What type of mine waste is present at the site?
(2) What is the chemical composition of the mine-waste piles?
(3) What is the acid-generating potential of the material?
(4) Are potentially toxic trace metals leached from the waste? If so, are the metals leached in quantities that may contaminate soils and streams and have a deleterious effect on the environment?
(5) How variable is the environmental impact among the various mine-waste piles?
(6) Is any of the material geochemically similar to mine waste at the near-by Elizabeth mine, a Superfund site in the initial stages of remediation?

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Open-File Report 2004-1248 [2.3-MB PDF file]

GIS data (shapefile from appendix A and DBF files from other appendixes and tables): [34 kB]

Metadata (text file)

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For questions about the content of this report, contact Nadine M. Piatak.

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