The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will begin work to reduce asbestos contamination of water at the inactive 2,500 acre Vermont Asbestos Group mine site, located off Mines Road in the towns of Eden and Lowell, Vermont.
According to an EPA press release, the agency is coordinating with Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Conservation on this particular job, which is expected to take until the end of November to complete. Officials say, however, that they may have to return in the spring for further cleanup.
“Our efforts will take a significant step toward stemming the flow of contaminated mining waste into area watersheds” said EPA New England regional administrator Robert W. Varney. “The work will reduce the mine’s adverse ecological impacts and the public’s potential exposure to health hazards.”
A spokesman for the EPA notes that they will be performing several measures in order to insure the continued safety of the water in the area, including rerouting surface water flow to avoid the tailings piles, channeling contaminated flow to on-site surface water retention areas to allow for deposition of fibers, and reinforcing and/or constructing berms to reduce the off-site movement of tailings.
Furthermore, both the EPA and the State of Vermont will be working with the Vermont Asbestos Group, Inc. (VAG), the current property owner, regarding performance of any required maintenance of the measures put in place by the EPA “to ensure their continued effectiveness and integrity.”
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has been investigating the site since 2004 and notes that “eight wetlands have been significantly damaged by mining waste leaving the site.” Wetland functions, including water storage (flood and storm water), surface and groundwater protection, erosion control, fisheries habitat, wildlife and migratory bird habitat, have been severely impacted by the presence of asbestos.