Iron Mountain Mine: Feasibility Study

Since the 1970s, over 23.5 million pounds of copper and zinc has flowed out of the Iron Mountain Mine due to mining activities (Sickles 2013). Pollution from mines is disastrous because they contaminate the nearby river systems. Due the severity of the pollution at the Iron Mountain Mine, the EPA had to pass necessary measures to decrease the amount of pollution present in the surrounding water systems through the process of remediation (EPA 2015). The EPA has enacted several measures to decrease the amount of zinc and copper in the rivers from several water systems especially on Spring Creek area. To determine the levels of zinc and copper, the EPA had to collect, test, and analyze water samples from Spring Creek through various methods. The …show more content…
To complete the FS, the EPA had to make an action plan that would help the water meet national standards in a cost-effective manner with the available technology. The EPA also had to find several other possibilities to meet the same goals in case the original plan did not work (Porter, 1986). After the conclusion of the FS in 1985, the EPA found that its main goals were to reduce the levels of pollution in the water and to prevent the pollutions from traveling into other connected waters systems. The EPA decided that the remediation process needed to occur in the ore bodies, the underground mines, and the surface water of the connecting rivers by installing recovery and treatment plants to get rid of the contaminants (Porter, 1986). These treatment plants would neutralize the water by putting in lime, remove the accumulated sludge on the sediments, and add air to oxidize soluble iron to non-soluble iron. The construction of these water treatment plants is an attempt to decrease the amount of pollution in discharge areas from the Iron Mountain Mine before it reaches to water systems that are used for human …show more content…
The ROD states that the EPA would introduce an emergency treatment plant, a plan to cap mine openings, and an enlargement of the SCDD. Immediately, the EPA initiated an emergency treatment plant with a lime neutralization process where water from Spring Creek is treated by neutralizing it with limestone before it reaches the main Keswick Reservoir. The EPA placed the treatment plant to clean the water so that humans and aquatic organisms can safely use it (EPA 2015). The EPA also created a diversion on the Upper Spring Creek area to reduce the accumulation of heavy metals at the SCDD. Additionally, the EPA decided to partially cap the mine and to remove the waste rock away from the area to decrease the amount of discharge being released into the water systems. The EPA placed the cap in the mine so that it can temporarily reduce the pollution as they worked to assess the complete situation as they decide what the next step will be (Sugarek, 1993). Unfortunately, the SCDD was not doing its job of preventing heavy metals from spreading because during the rainy season the dam would overflow and allow accumulated heavy metals into the Spring Creek. To combat the problem, the EPA decided to enlarge the dam’s storage capacity from 5,800 acre-feet to 23,000 acre-feet so that the water does not overflow anymore (Porter, 1986). The EPA took its critical first

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