WorldWide Drilling Resource

42 JANUARY 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Great Progress on Keweenaw Peninsula Adapted from Information by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy In Michigan, mining is a big part of the Keweenaw Peninsula's history. For over 100 years, mining companies in that part of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) flourished, and before many modern environmental laws were enacted, waste was disposed of in and around Torch Lake. The problems left behind when mining and ore processing ceased were immense. It's estimated at least 20% of the lake's volume was filled with tailings and other waste products. In the 1980s, the area was designated as a Superfund Site and a Great Lakes Area of Concern by the U.S./Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund Branch undertook activities to address stampsand (the most prolific waste associated with the copper mining), but left polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, and other wastes. Since 2013, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has worked to mitigate public health and environmental risks not addressed by the EPA Superfund Remedial Branch. EGLE's Abandoned Mine Waste (AMW) project focuses on mining-era wastes historically discarded in or near Torch Lake in the Keweenaw Peninsula, which include: jSignificant in-lake and/or terrestrial sources of contamination, particularly PCBs; jUncharacterized waste deposits, including an estimated 750 drums located on the lake bottom; jBulk disposal areas, including dumps, debris piles, and landfills; and, jIndustrial ruins, including former coal storage areas, underground storage tanks, asbestos-containing building materials, and other waste materials. The complex and geographically extensive project requires a lot of resources. Amy Keranen, EGLE's AMW project manager, formed a team consisting of the EGLE Remediation and Redevelopment Division (RRD), EPA Emergency Response Branch, and RRD's consultant, the Mannik & Smith Group. The team uses funding provided by the State of Michigan and the U.S. EPA. Keranen sees the project advance every year. "The team has completed extensive multiyear waste removal actions at eight locations along Torch Lake in the past 13 years," she said. "U.P. RRD has also completed numerous emergency drum, asbestos, waste, and mercury removals during that time frame . . . My goal for the AMW project was to make sure that future generations wouldn't have to worry about encountering mining wastes as they explore the great Keweenaw Peninsula. With the work we've accomplished to-date, I am quite satisfied that we are meeting that goal as the project progresses." MIN