The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) completed an early action at the Red Devil Mine site last summer 2015 which basically moved tailings already there away from the creek and created a place to catch future eroded tailings. This also involved some realigning of a portion of the Red Devil Creek.
Why go to all of this effort? It was determined that the tailings piles were eroding into Red Devil Creek, carrying with them high concentrations of mercury, arsenic, and antimony. It was done to provide some help to the area until site-wide clean up can take place.
Now What? In CERCLA Terms, we are awaiting the release of the Proposed Plan.
According to Mike McCrum, the Red Devil Mine Project Manager with the BLM, the BLM has finalized the Feasibility Study (FS) and developed a draft Proposed Plan, which is still under review by the EPA and AK DEC, and cannot yet be made public.
This plan will describe BLM’s preferred site-wide cleanup method. They anticipate the Proposed Plan will be ready to present to communities in the fall of 2015 or the following spring.
After they receive and consider public comment, they can then develop a Record of Decision. That will be the final document that will define what action(s) will be taken, cleanup levels, and future monitoring requirements.
If you have time to read and translate the scientific terminology of the Feasibility Study or Remedial Investigation found here, you may notice that a large amount of focus is on the tailings, and not much time is spent on the groundwater. This is because the initial Study focused on tailings and related contaminated soil.
The BLM is now working on what they are calling the supplemental RI, which will focus on groundwater and Kuskokwim River sediment. A draft of this report was completed in May 2016 and is currently under review. Once complete, they will follow the steps outlined above – eventually coming to a decision on how to cleanup the groundwater and river sediment.
Stay tuned for more updates, we will let you know when the first Proposed Plan is out for public review and commenting.
Since Georgetown is just downriver from the RDM site and we have been documenting high levels of Arsenic in the groundwater wells there, your comments will be important!!
EC Kate Schaberg/08.19.2016