In 2009 BLM initiated an environmental investigation of the Red Devil Mine site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, known as CERCLA. The investigation, called a Remedial Investigation, includes a Feasibility Study of possible remediation methods.
The Remedial Investigation improved our understanding of the physical setting and potential impacts of mine tailings (the leftover material after mercury was extracted) on human health and the environment.
Samples collected from the soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater were analyzed for metals such as mercury, arsenic and antimony. This information was used to identify whether metals from the tailings are migrating into the groundwater and surface water, and ultimately into the fish and animals that inhabit the area around the mine site.
The results of the Remedial Investigation show that large piles of tailings near Red Devil Creek contain high concentrations of mercury, arsenic and antimony. The results also show that the tailings eroding into Red Devil Creek and moving into the Kuskokwim River. BLM will conduct an early action in 2014 to prevent further migration of this contamination.
BLM has developed an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) for an early action that outlines three alternatives for preventing the tailings from migrating:
- Lining the section of Red Devil Creek nearest the tailings pile with concrete cloth.
- Installing culvert pipe in the section of Red Devil Creek nearest the tailings.
- Excavating a new channel in the section of Red Devil Creek nearest the tailings, and moving the tailings pile back from the creek.
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