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Brewer Gold Mine

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Brewer site

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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SCD987577913
Location: Jefferson, Chesterfield County, South Carolina
Lat/Long: 34.652190, -080.411470
Congressional District: 05
NPL Status: Proposed: 09/23/2004; Final: 04/27/2005
Affected Media: Ground water, Surface Water
Cleanup Status: Physical cleanup activities are underway
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Groundwater Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: None
Site Manager: Loften Carr (carr.loften@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Brewer Gold Mine operated intermittently from 1828 - 1995. From 1987 through 1995, the Brewer Gold Company mined over 12,000,000 tons of ore and waste rock from several open pits. When the company abandoned the site in 1999, EPA took over site water treatment operations in order to contain acid rock drainage that could harm Little Fork Creek and the Lynches River.  EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2005. By conducting cleanup activities, treating wastewater and undertaking Five-Year Reviews , EPA and SCDHEC continue to protect people and the environment. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site.

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Site Location and Background

The 1,000-acre site is located off Hilton Road on the western border of Chesterfield County, in a rural area approximately one mile west of Jefferson, South Carolina. The site includes a 230-acre area that supported mining and processing activities. Road 265 borders the site to the south. Unoccupied land borders the site to the north and west. Little Fork Creek borders the site to the east. 

The Brewer Gold Mine operated at the site from 1828 to 1995. From 1987 through 1995, the Brewer Gold Company mined over 12 million tons of ore and waste rock from several open pits. Mining operations crushed ore and placed it in large heaps on plastic-lined surfaces called pads. Operations then applied a dilute solution to the surface of the heaps, which dissolved the gold and silver as it trickled through the heaps. Operations collected the solution at the bottom and recovered the gold in an on-site plant. In 1990, following large rainstorms, a dam broke and over 10 million gallons of the solution escaped and flowed into Little Fork Creek. The solution killed fish in the creek and in Lynches River for nearly 50 miles downstream. EPA and SCDHEC responded to the emergency. The company repaired the dam and plastic-lined pond and resumed mining in 1991.

In 1995, the company notified the State of South Carolina of its intent to stop operations at the site. The State of South Carolina required the company to close and reclaim the mine. The company placed all the rock it had mined, including both waste rock and spent ore, back into the open pits, along with the dismantled plant and the plastic liners that had been under the heaps, capped the filled areas, and revegetated the entire site. During closure activities, drainage began to emerge from several seeps a few hundred feet from Little Fork Creek. The company constructed a plant to treat the contaminated water and received a permit to discharge treated water to Little Fork Creek. The wastewater treatment plant operated from 1995 to 1999.

In 1999, the company abandoned the site and the wastewater treatment plant and EPA took over the plant’s operations. In 2005, EPA listed the site on the NPL. Tthe site is not in use. Fencing limits access to the site.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water and surface water that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from mining operations at the site. Contaminants of concern include acids and the metals mercury and selenium.

T he Jefferson Town Water System water lines connects most residences and businesses near the site to the public water supply. However, several residents immediately west of the site use private wells. EPA determined that contamination has not affected these wells.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA leads site investigation and cleanup activities in cooperation with SCDHEC.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 2005, EPA issued an interim cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. The plan included the following activities:

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the interim ROD.

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Cleanup Progress

In August 2005, EPA completed a focused Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) that recommended continued treatment of the contaminated water in the existing wastewater treatment plant as an interim action. Interim cleanup activities began at the site in December 2006 and continue today.

EPA completed a site wide RI in December 2010. The site’s first Five-Year Review, completed in 2011, found that the cleanup at the site is expected to be protective of human health and the environment upon completion.

EPA completed the FS for Operable Unit 1 (OU1) Surface Water Protection: Impacted Groundwater Collection and Treatment in January 2013. EPA will issue the Proposed Plan for Brewer Gold Mine Site Surface Water Protection: Capture and Treatment of Mine Impacted Groundwater in February 2013. The Proposed Plan was presented to the public at a public meeting held on February 28, 2013 at Jefferson Elementary School, 809 W Elizabeth St., Jefferson, SC. The Public Comment Period on the proposed plan was February 28 to April 30, 2013 from 7 pm to 9 pm. SCDHEC provided detailed comments on the Proposed Plan. EPA provided detailed response to SCDHEC comments in September 2013. EPA and SCDHEC met in December 2013 and April 2014 to discuss SCDHEC comments and concerns regarding the proposed remedy for OU01 and are ongoing at this time.

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Enforcement Activities

In 1995, SCDHEC negotiated legal agreements with Brewer Gold Company to close and reclaim the mine. 

Currently, EPA is using federal funds for site investigation and cleanup activities.

The Proposed Plan Fact Sheet and Five-Year Review online provide additional information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

EPA is working with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA is conducting a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts include public notices, interviews and information meetings.

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Future Work

Interim site cleanup activities are ongoing. Operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment system and necessary support facilities is also ongoing.

EPA plans to complete and issue the site’s final cleanup plan (the ROD) in 2012.

EPA completed the last Five-Year Review in 2011 and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2016.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

Fannie D. Lowry Memorial Branch Library
North Main Street
Jefferson, SC 29718

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