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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
Elizabeth Copper Mine
(a/k/a Elizabeth Mine)
Strafford, Orange County, Vermont
CERCLIS NO. VTD988366621
August 23, 2004




CONCLUSIONS

On the basis of an evaluation of available data, ATSDR determined that no harmful exposures currently exist at the Elizabeth Mine site. ATSDR, therefore, classifies exposures at the Elizabeth Mine site as posing no apparent public health hazard. (The definition of ATSDR's public health conclusion classifications is provided in Appendix F.)

On the basis of a review of available environmental data and plausible exposure scenarios, ATSDR determined that potential current and future exposures to groundwater, on-site surface soil, surface water, sediment, and biota pose no apparent public health hazards. Metals and organics have been found in these media at concentrations below health concern. One private well that contained elevated levels of metals has been abandoned to prevent current and future use. No other wells contained metals at levels of health concern. Levels of metals and organics in remaining media (soil, surface water, sediment, and biota) were found below levels of health concern. In addition, EPA planned and is implementing a number of remedial actions designed to reduce or eliminate future exposure to contaminants in these media.

ATSDR characterized past exposures at the site as posing a public health hazard. Metals were detected in drinking water well #3 at levels that could pose a public health hazard. ATSDR concluded that prolonged exposure to metals in this well could result in adverse health effects. Well #3 was closed to prevent current and future exposures. No other private wells contained contaminants at levels of health concern. Past exposure to contaminants in other site media (soil, surface water, sediment, air, and biota) pose no apparent health hazard. Sampling results were considered to represent past conditions because no cleanup was conducted before these samples were collected; however, this data cannot determine when the contamination started.. Metals and organics were found at levels below health concern.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. EPA, VTDEC, and site owners should conduct site cleanup and investigations as proposed by EPA (EPA 2002) (see Planned Actions, below).

  2. Parents should ensure that their children do not play on or near the site's tailings piles. Recommend that signs be posted to inform community members that this area and the unpaved road should not be accessed.

  3. Recommend the annual lead testing for the children continue as a preventative measure.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

This Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) was developed to set forth actions needed at the site. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment identifies public health hazards and provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects that may result from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. The public health actions that are completed, being implemented, or planned are explained below:

Completed Actions:
  • Since 2000, EPA, VTANR, and USGS have collected drinking water, surface water, sediment, soil, air, dust (bulk and wipe) samples, and biota (fish) samples from the Elizabeth Mine site and nearby. On the basis of the results of analysis of these samples, EPA prepared a Proposed Plan (2002) outlining site remediation.

  • ATSDR evaluated site data collected by EPA, VTANR, and USGS, and published three health consultations in 2000 and 2001 based on these evaluations.

  • ATSDR concluded that prolonged exposure to elevated levels of aluminum, cadmium, and copper found in well #3 could pose a public health problem based on evaluations presented in a 2000 health consultation. ATSDR recommended closing the well. EPA sent a notice of poor water quality to the owner of property containing wells #3 and #3A. The resident of the mobile home on that property had already experienced problems with septic system contamination. Prior to ATSDR's recommendation, the property owner assisted the resident in finding other housing arrangements, and the owner removed the mobile home from this property.
Planned Actions:

ATSDR staff will continue to enhance community outreach activities to ensure that community concerns are addressed through the PHA process in coordination with the EPA's RI/FS process.

EPA has proposed the following early cleanup plan: (EPA 2002)
  • Divert clean surface water and groundwater flow around the tailings piles (TP1, TP2, TP3) being completed.

  • Capture and treat the acid mine drainage (AMD) flowing from TP3 using a combination of natural treatment systems - in process.

  • Capture and treat the acid mine drainage flowing from seeps along the toe of TP1 using a combination of natural treatment systems.

  • Preserve a portion (up to 100%) of the copper waste rock and copperas heap leaching piles adjacent to the North Open Cut (TP3). (Three preservation options presented.)

  • Cover two tailings piles (TP1 and TP2) with a cover system that will limit infiltration.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Lovyst Luker
Environmental Health Scientist
ATSDR
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

REFERENCES

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 1992. Toxicological profile for thallium. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1992 Jul.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 1998. Toxicological profile for arsenic. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1998 Aug.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 1999a. Toxicological profile for mercury. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1999 Mar.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 1999b. Toxicological profile for lead (update). Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1999 Jul.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 2000a. Health consultation: an evaluation of residential drinking water wells adjacent to the Elizabeth Copper Mine Site. Elizabeth Mine. Strafford, Orange County, Vermont. October 24, 2000. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000 Oct 24.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 2000b. Health consultation: residential soil and mine tailings, Elizabeth Copper Mine Site. Strafford, Orange County, Vermont. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000 Nov 28.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 2000c. Toxicological profile for chromium. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000 Sep.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 2001. Petitioned health consultation: residential soil, indoor dust, and ambient air, Elizabeth Copper Mine (a/k/a Elizabeth Mine), Strafford, Orange County, Vermont. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2001 Dec 28.

Arthur D. Little. 2000a. Draft site summary report: Elizabeth Mine, South Strafford, Vermont. (Output from ADLittle Reporting System 22-Feb-02.) 2000 30 May.

Arthur D. Little. 2000b. Elizabeth Mine trip memorandum: surface soil and residential drinking water sampling. 2000 18 Sep.

Arthur D. Little. 2001a. Elizabeth Mine site conditions report, final. 2001 Feb.

Arthur D. Little. 2001b. Elizabeth Mine residential data package. Multiple documents, January 5 through October 23, 2001.

Lockheed Martin. 2001. Memorandum from Miguel Trespalacios, REAC Sub-Task Leader to Alan Humphrey, U.S. EPA/ERTC Work Assignment Manager. Subject: Elisabeth Mine Site. Strafford, Vermont. Work Assignment #0-117 - Amended Trip Report. March 30, 2001.

US Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 1997. Exposure factors handbook, Volume I general factors. Washington, DC: Office of Research and Development. National Center for Environmental Assessment, EPA Publication Number: EPA/600/P-95/002Fa; 1997 Aug.

US Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 2002. Early cleanup action for Elizabeth Mine. Public meetings scheduled for March and April 2002. Elizabeth Mine Superfund Site, Strafford/Thetford, Vermont.

US Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 2003a. Phone conversation between William Lovely (EPA) and ERG. January 28, 2003 and June 11, 2003.

US Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 2003b. Correspondence from William Lovely (EPA). Email received February 7, 2003.

63 Federal Register 30353. June 3, 1998.

US Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD 19095. Guidelines for the evaluation and control of lead-based paint hazards in housing. Washington, DC: 1995 Jun.

US Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. USGS. 2000. Characterization of mine waste at the Elizabeth Copper Mine, Orange County, Vermont. Open-File Record 99-564. 2000 Jul 3. As cited in Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR 2001. petitioned health consultation: residential soil, indoor dust, and ambient air, Elizabeth Copper Mine (a/k/a Elizabeth Mine), Strafford, Orange County, Vermont. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2001 Dec 28.

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. VTANR. 1991. Elizabeth Mine, Old Mine Road, Strafford, Vermont, potential hazardous waste site, screening site inspection. 1991 Aug.

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. VTANR. 2000. Cancer in Vermont: a report of 1994-1996 cancer incidence data from the Vermont Cancer Registry. Vermont Department of Health. Online at http://www.state.vt.us/health/CancerinVT.pdf. Accessed October 31, 2002.

Vermont Department of Health. VTDOH 2003. Health alert: the Vermont Department of Health Recommends That People Limit Their Consumption of Some Fish Caught in Vermont Waters. Online at http://www.state.vt.us/health/fish.htm. Accessed February 10, 2003.

Weather Underground. 2003. Average temperatures and records for Montpelier, VT. Online at http://www.wunderground.com/NORMS/DisplayNORMS.asp?AirportCode=KMPV. Accessed January 30, 2003.

Weston RF. 2000a. Surficial soil sampling event at three residential properties on the Elizabeth Mine Site in Strafford, Orange County, Vermont, 1 and 2 November 2000.

Weston RF 2000b. Elizabeth Mine Site. Strafford, Vermont. 5 January 2001.

Weston RF. ND. Memorandum from Eric D. Acherman, Roy F. Weston, Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team to Elizabeth Mine Site File. Subject: Surficial soil sampling event at three residential properties on the Elizabeth Mine Site in Strafford, Orange County, Vermont, 1 and 2 November 2000. Not Dated.

Appendix A: Figures

Figure 1 Site Location Map [PDF, 241KB]

Figure 2 Elizabeth Copper Mine Demographics Information [PDF, 201KB]

Figure 3 Residential Drinking Water Sample Locations [PDF, 41KB]

Figure 4 Soil Sampling Locations (Residences 1, 2 and 3) [PDF, 190KB]

Figure 5 Soil Sampling Locations (Non-Residential Samples) [PDF, 411KB]

Figure 6 Surface Water and Sediment Sample Locations and Physiographic Areas [PDF, 240KB]

Appendix B: Tables

Pathway Name Source Media Point of Exposure Route of Exposure Exposed Population Time-frame Comments
Drinking Water Elizabeth Mine Ground-water Private wells (off-site) Ingestion, Dermal contact Residents with private drinking water wells Past Current Future Groundwater from residential wells located downgradient of the site is used for drinking water. Metals were detected at elevated levels in some water samples. Most of the elevated contaminant levels were found in residential wells not currently in use.
Surface water and sediment Elizabeth Mine Surface water and sediment Copperas Brook and the WBOR (off-site) Incidental ingestion, Dermal contact Recreational users (e.g. boating and swimming) Past Current Future Contaminants discharge into the streams passing through the site. Slightly elevated levels of certain metals were found in surface water. Local residents may use the streams just past the site boundaries for recreation but not for drinking water. Recreational users would contact small amounts of sediment.
Biota Elizabeth Mine Fish Copperas Brook and WBOR (off-site) Ingestion Local or recreational fishers Past Current Future Fish living in the streams near the site ingest contaminants in the surface water. Vermont Department of Health (VTDOH) considers the WBOR to be a potential fishery, but does not consider Copperas Brook a potential fishery. Sport fish were sampled in these two streams, both of which are located on the site. One metal was detected at slightly elevated levels.


Table 2.

Drinking water contaminants in off-site residential wells detected above comparison values, Elizabeth Copper Mine Site
Chemical Maximum Level (ppb) Date of Maximum Comparison Value (CV) (ppb) Type Exceedences / Detections / Samples Location of Maximum
Aluminum 31,000 5/19/00 20,000 I-EMEG-child 2/5/61 RES-03
Arsenic 3.8 4/30/01 0.02 CREG 2/2/64 RES-04
Cadmium 16 5/19/00 2 C-EMEG-child 3/3/64 RES-03
Chromium 31.9 5/19/00 30 RMEG-child 1/1/64 RES-09
Cobalt 440 5/19/00 100 I-EMEG-child 4/5/61 RES-03
Copper 13,200 5/19/00 1,300 EPA Action Level 3/47/64 RES-03
Iron 30,900 4/26/00 11,000 RBC-N 1/26/61 RES-03A
Lead 32 10/24/01 15 EPA Action Level 2/19/64 RES-04A
Manganese 1,600 5/19/00 500 RMEG-child 8/40/61 RES-03
Source: Arthur D. Little 2001b

Key:
C-EMEG-child = Environmental Media Evaluation Guide for chronic exposure to a child (ATSDR)
CREG = Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide (ATSDR)
I-EMEG-child = Environmental Media Evaluation Guide for intermediate exposure to a child (ATSDR)
ppb = parts per billion
RBC-N = Risk-Based Concentration for non-cancer effects (EPA)
RMEG-child = Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide for a child (ATSDR)


Table 3.

Surface water contaminants detected above comparison values, vicinity of the Elizabeth Copper Mine Site
Chemical Maximum Level (ppb) Date Comparison Value (CV) (ppb) Type Detections / Samples Location of maximum
Upstream (LOC-01, LOC-07)
Bis(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate 3 2000 3 CREG 3/3 LOC-07
Arsenic 3.4 2000 0.02 CREG 1/15 LOC-01
Thallium 4.8 2000 2 MCL 3/33 LOC-07
Copperas Brook on-site (LOC-02, LOC-03, LOC-04, LOC-05, LOC-06, SSI SW-1, SSI SW-3)
Aluminum 134000 2000 20000 I-EMEG-child 65/66 LOC-02
Antimony 21.4 2000 4 RMEG-child 6/48 LOC-05
Arsenic 48 8/23/90 0.02 CREG 5/41 SW-1 (SSI data)
Beryllium 4.4 2000 4 MCL 41/66 LOC-02
Cadmium 136 2000 2 C-EMEG-child 54/68 LOC-02
Chromium 123 2000 30 RMEG-child 58/68 LOC-02
Cobalt 2310 2000 100 I-EMEG-child 63/66 LOC-02
Copper 101000 2000 1300 MCL 68/68 LOC-02
Iron 492000 2000 11000 RBC-N 65/66 LOC-05
Lead 30.6 2000 15 EPA Action Level 32/68 LOC-02
Manganese 5160 2000 500 RMEG-child 66/66 LOC-05
Nickel 530 2000 200 RMEG-child 66/68 LOC-02
Thallium 74.4 2000 2 MCL 30/66 LOC-05
Vanadium 39 2000 30 I-EMEG-child 33/66 LOC-05
Zinc 17400 2000 3000 C-EMEG-child 68/68 LOC-02
Mixing Zone of the West Branch of the Ompompanoosuc River on-site (LOC-11, LOC-12, LOC-13, LOC-14, LOC-15, LOC-42)
Arsenic 4.5 2000 0.02 CREG 2/19 LOC-14
Cadmium 3.1 2000 2 C-EMEG-child 8/40 LOC-11
Iron 63800 2000 11000 RBC-N 58/59 LOC-15
Lead 17.3 2000 15 EPA Action Level 26/59 LOC-13
Manganese 2640 2000 500 RMEG-child 58/59 LOC-15
Thallium 4.3 2000 2 MCL 4/34 LOC-11
Vanadium 35 2000 30 I-EMEG-child 20/59 LOC-13
Downstream (LOC-16, LOC-17, LOC-18)
Thallium 7.1 2000 2 MCL 3/18 LOC-16
Air Vent on-site (LOC-08)
Cadmium 3.7 2000 2 C-EMEG-child 10/16 LOC-08
Iron 74100 2000 11000 RBC-N 16/16 LOC-08
Manganese 3120 2000 500 RMEG-child 16/16 LOC-08
Thallium 32.8 2000 2 MCL 6/16 LOC-08
Source: Arthur D. Little 2001b

Key:
C-EMEG-child = Environmental Media Evaluation Guide for Chronic exposure to a child (ATSDR)
CREG = Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide (ATSDR)
I-EMEG-child = Environmental Media Evaluation Guide for Intermediate exposure to a child (ATSDR)
MCL = Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water (EPA)
ppb = parts per billion
RBC-N = Risk-Based Concentration for Non-cancer effects (EPA)
RMEG-child = Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide for a child (ATSDR)


Table 4.

Sediment contaminants detected above comparison values (mine tailings), vicinity of the Elizabeth Copper Mine Site
Chemical Maximum Level (ppm) Date Comparison Value (CV) (ppm) Type Exceedences / Detections / Samples Location of Maximum
Phenanthrene 0.075 2000 N/A None 1/1/1 LOC-11
Arsenic 5.79 8/23/90 0.5 CREG 12/13/19 SD-1
Iron 137,000 2000 23,000 RBC-N 7/22/22 LOC-06
Source: Arthur D. Little 2001b

Key:
CREG = Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide (ATSDR)
N/A = not applicable
ppm = parts per million
RBC-N = Risk-Based Concentration for Non-cancer effects (EPA)


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