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EPA Office of Research and Development's Office of Science Policy Mine and Mineral Processing Virtual Workshop Session 3 - Innovative Technologies and Strategies

Sponsored by: US EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD)'s Office of Science Policy

Archived: Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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EPA's Office of Research and Development's Office of Science Policy and Center for Environmental Solutions & Emergency Response is sponsoring a 4-part virtual workshop series to address characterization, remediation, and response challenges at Superfund and legacy mining and mineral processing sites. Each virtual workshop will include a short lecture by various subject matter experts in their respective fields but will also allow ample time for the presenters to interact with the audience, including time for questions and answers as well as brainstorming and identifying concerns from stakeholders participating in each virtual workshop. If you have a mining reclamation or remediation site, this is the virtual workshop for you!

The third session will focus on innovative technologies and strategies available for mining sites. The session will present Superfund pilot sites that have integrated adaptive management approaches at their sites to help optimize the selected remedy and associated lessons learned. The session will also highlight recent technology advances and applications for active and passive treatment technologies at mine sites.

  1. Chris Eckley (EPA Region 10)

    Abstract: A review of innovative strategies for the remediation of downstream ecosystems impacted by mercury released from abandoned mine sites.
    North America contains thousands of abandoned mercury (Hg) mines and tens of thousands of abandoned silver and gold mines where Hg was used during the amalgamation process. These sites often contain elevated levels of inorganic Hg in soils/tailings that can be mobilized into receiving water bodies. At most Hg contaminated sites, the largest risk driver is typically associated with methylmercury (MeHg) that has bioaccumulated in downstream fish and other aquatic-based organisms. The Hg in these ecosystems downstream of mining sources is often: dispersed over large areas, embedded in otherwise highly-functioning habitat features such as wetlands and riparian zones, and occurs at lower concentrations than observed at the mine site. However, the Hg in these downstream systems is still elevated enough to result in impacts to organisms that bioaccumulate MeHg. In these situations, traditional remediation strategies involving removal and/or containment/capping may not be feasible, effective or desirable.

    This presentation reviews innovative remediation strategies that can be utilized at abandoned mine sites with the goal of reducing MeHg levels in downstream impacted aquatic systems. Remediation techniques can include source control, the application of amendments to reduce mobility and bioavailability, landscape/waterbody manipulations to reduce MeHg production, and foodweb manipulations to reduce MeHg accumulated in desired species. These approaches can utilize physical, chemical, thermal and biological methods to achieve remediation goals. This presentation will also provide results from a case study from the Cottage Grove Reservoir, which is located downstream of the Black Butte Mine superfund site and contains elevated MeHg in fish due to releases from the mine. In that study, we identified the important role that water-level fluctuations play in impacting the methylation of Hg. Overall, the complexity of Hg cycling allows for many different opportunities to reduce/mitigate impacts which creates flexibility in determining suitable and logistically feasible remedies.

  2. Kate Garufi (EPA Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation)

    Adaptive Management Applications at Superfund Mining Sites
    Adaptive management is a project management approach that is being increasingly applied to complex Superfund sites like large mining districts to expedite early actions, improve characterization and risk assessment efforts, and dynamically apply remediation technologies to expedite cleanups. This session will describe adaptive management approaches applied at Superfund sites including progress and recent lessons learned from applications at Superfund mining sites. Session participants will gain an understanding of adaptive management strategies applied at Superfund mining sites and how other sites may benefit from increased use of Adaptive Site Management.

  3. Mark Johnson (EPA Office of Research and Development)

    Abstract: Considerations for Applying Soil Amendments at Mine Sites
    While mining provides essential metals and minerals for humanity, it can also cause environmental contamination, from unstable mining residuals. Management tools are needed to facilitate stabilization of mining residuals using plants (phytostabilization) at both active and abandoned mines to reduce negative environmental impacts. Mining residuals are often acidic, laden with heavy metals, lacking adequate nutrients and physical conditions for plant growth, which are all challenging for establishing plant cover. We have had success using a systematic approach to define site-specific prescriptions using biochar in concert with other soil amendments to improve site conditions facilitating native plant establishment on mine residuals. This framework includes assessing site-specific limitations to plant establishment through laboratory analyses to evaluate pH, heavy metal contamination, nutrient availability, and soil physical attributes (e.g., particle size distribution, bulk density, water-holding capacity), followed by development of site-specific soil amendment prescriptions tailored to ameliorate the limitations present. This presentation describes which site conditions need to be considered when developing a site-specific soil amendment prescription. It will also include our working framework and use case studies to demonstrate the positive and negative aspects of the process.

Accessibility, Recording, and Content Disclaimer

Rehabilitation Act Notice for Reasonable Accommodation

It is EPA's policy to make reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities wishing to participate in the agency's programs and activities, pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 791. Any request for accommodation should be made to Jodi McCarty at 773-934-3091 or jodi.mccarty@icf.com, preferably one week or more in advance of the webinar, so that EPA will have sufficient time to process the request. EPA would welcome specific recommendations from requestors specifying the nature or type of accommodation needed. Please note that accommodation requests for closed captioning are not necessary. Closed captioning is being provided for all CLU-IN webinars as of October 1, 2016.

Webinar Recording

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Content Disclaimer

This webinar is intended solely to provide information to the public. The views and opinions expressed as part of this webinar do not necessarily state or reflect those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is not intended, nor can it be relied upon, to create any rights enforceable by any party in litigation with the United States, or to endorse the use of products or services provided by specific vendors. With respect to this webinar, neither the United States Government nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights.

Presenters:

Chris Eckley, EPA Region 10 (Eckley.chris@epa.gov or 206-553-0510)
Dr. Eckley received his BSc in Environmental Science from Western Washington University (1997) and subsequently worked as a Biological Technician for the US National Park Service for the next 4 years at Olympic National Park, WA. In 2001, he began doing mercury (Hg) research as part of his MSc at Trent University in Ontario, Canada and has been actively engaging in Hg research ever since. His MSc research focused on utilizing Hg stable isotopes as tracers of methylation activity in lakes across Canada and the US. Dr Eckley received his PhD in Physical Geography (2007) from the University of Toronto which focused on the influence of urban environments on Hg cycling. Subsequently, his two Postdoctoral positions at the University of Nevada, Reno and Environment Canada focused on identifying non-point sources of Hg emissions from active industrial mining and smelting sties. Dr. Eckley started working at the EPA Region 10 office in 2011 as a Mining Geochemist in the Office of Environmental Assessment. His current work is split between working on Superfund site projects and reviewing Environmental Impact Statements for newly proposed mines.


Kate Garufi, EPA OSRTI (garufi.katherine@epa.gov or 703-517-5857)
Kate Garufi is the design and construction subject matter expert in the EPA Headquarters Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation. She has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. She has over 15 years of experience in EPA Headquarters providing policy and technical support to all ten Regions for topics including design and remedial action scoping project management and groundwater policy development. In addition, she is the chair for the Adaptive Management Task Force Workgroup which is conducted six pilot projects to support future guidance development in this area.


Mark Johnson, EPA Office of Research and Development (Johnson.markg@Epa.gov or 541-754-4696)
Dr. Mark Johnson is a Research Soil Scientist with the Office of Research and Development at the Pacific Ecological Systems Division (PESD) in the Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment (CPHEA). He has worked on a variety of topics for EPA since 1985. For the past 8+ years Dr. Johnson's research has focused on developing and using soil amendments to improve soil health and conditions at mining impacted sites with the goal of establishing native plant covers to provide sustainable in situ remediation. Dr. Johnson and his research colleagues are leaders in using biochar as a soil amendment. Biochar is attractive as a soil amendment because its properties can be tuned to meet site specific needs. Common soil amendment materials in combination with biochar offer a cost-effective way to improve soil conditions to establish native vegetation at mining impacted sites. Together, these protect human health and the environment


Moderators:

Jean BalentJean Balent, U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division (balent.jean@epa.gov or 703-603-9924)
Ms Balent is on the staff of the EPA's Technology Innovation and Field Services Division where she has worked to collect and disseminate hazardous waste remediation and characterization information since 2003. Ms Balent manages the Clean Up Information Network website and actively supports online communication and collaboration resources available to EPA. She formerly worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Engineering Division in the Buffalo District. Ms Balent was also a member of the SUNY-Buffalo Groundwater Research Group where she constructed and tested large scale models of groundwater flow. Ms Balent has also conducted research relating to the Great Lakes, environmental remediation, and brownfields re-development. She holds a Bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from SUNY-Buffalo and a Master's degree in Information Technology from AIU.


James Rice, ICF International Inc. (James.Rice@icf.com)
Mr. Rice is Senior Geologist at ICF with more than 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry. Mr. Rice has been involved in a wide range of environmental investigation, assessment and remediation projects for EPA, DOD, DOE and commercial clients using traditional and innovative tools and approaches. He currently provides technical support to EPA OSRTI with optimization and technology innovation and integration where he helps site teams improve characterization and remediation by applying best practices such as systematic planning, 3-dimensional visualization and analysis, high resolution site characterization and CSM development. Mr. Rice also develops and delivers technical training for several EPA courses including Incremental Sampling, Best Practices in Site Characterization through the Remedial Process, and High Resolution Site Characterization.



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If you have a suggested topic or idea for a future CLU-IN internet seminar, please contact:

Jean Balent
Technology Integration and Information Branch

PH: (703) 603-9924 | Email: balent.jean@epa.gov
Michael Adam
Technology Integration and Information Branch

PH: (703) 603-9915 | Email: adam.michael@epa.gov