Characterization, Cleanup, and Revitalization of Mining Sites
A thorough site characterization is important to understanding the issues and tools that might be needed during cleanup and revitalization. Characterization studies of substrate materials can determine if any factors that could impact waste stability and contaminant transport are present. Although the physical and chemical characterization of contaminated media can be an intricate process, a well-planned and executed program can provide the benefits of improved project design and environmental impact mitigation.
The EPA Abandoned Mine Site Characterization and Cleanup Handbook (2000) provides a reference resource to EPA project managers and other staff working on addressing the environmental issues posed by inactive mines and mineral processing sites. While the Handbook is not policy or guidance, it is a useful compendium of information gained during many years of experience on mine site cleanup projects. The Handbook was developed primarily for EPA staff, but also may be useful to others working on mine site characterization and cleanup projects, including states, other federal agencies, tribes, local government, public interest groups, and private industry. Handbook users are encouraged to refer to appropriate agency guidance and policy during development of site-specific mine site investigation and cleanup projects. Appendix C (Characterization of Ore, Waste Rock and Tailings) of EPA and Hardrock Mining: A Source Book for Industry in the Northwest and Alaska Report (2003) describes the methods used to characterize the solid wastes from mining activities and the rationale for their implementation. It presents the methods used to determine the physical and chemical characteristics of waste materials, describes the environmental tests used to assess contaminant mobility, outlines the conceptual models used to analyze contaminant fate and transport, and discusses the elements of quality assurance and quality control engendered in an environmental testing program.