Brewer Gold Mine
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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SCD987577913
Location: Jefferson, Chesterfield County, South Carolina
Lat/Long: 34.652190, -80.411470
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The 1,000-acre Brewer Gold Mine site is located on the western border of Chesterfield County, in a rural area approximately 1-mile west of Jefferson, South Carolina. The disturbed area that supported mining activities covers 230 acres in the eastern portion of the larger property. The property is bordered by Road 265 to the south, unoccupied land to the north and west, and Little Fork Creek to the east. The site is located near a topographic high, sloping to the east toward Little Fork Creek and to the west toward Lynches River. Little Fork Creek enters Lynches River approximately two miles downstream of the site. Most of the population within a 4-mile radius of the site obtains drinking water from the Jefferson Town Water System. However, several residents to the immediate west of the site have private wells.
The Brewer Gold Mine operated 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. The company crushed ore and placed it in large heaps on one of several plastic-lined surfaces called pads. A dilute solution of sodium cyanide was then applied to the surface of the heaps, and it dissolved the gold and silver as it trickled through the heaps. The company then collected the solution at the bottom and recovered the gold in an on-site plant. In 1990, following large rainstorms, a dam broke and allowed over 10 million gallons of cyanide solution to escape and flow into Little Fork Creek. Fish were killed in the creek and in Lynches River for nearly 50 miles downstream. EPA and SCDHEC responded to the emergency. The dam and plastic-lined pond were repaired, and the company resumed mining in 1991.
In 1995, the company notified the State of South Carolina of its intent to stop operations at the site. At that time, there were three open pits (Brewer, B-6, and Northwest Trend pits), six heaps of spent ore, a waste rock pile, a sediment control pond to capture stormwater runoff from the waste rock pile, a large plastic-lined pond to capture and store excess runoff from the heaps, the process plant where ore was prepared and the cyanide solution processed to recover the gold, several buildings, and several miles of unpaved roads.
The State required Brewer to close and reclaim the mine. Brewer 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. They then had to cap the filled Brewer and B-6 pits and re-vegetate the entire site. Brewer completed nearly all of these requirements satisfactorily.
While the company was completing its closure and reclamation activities, acid rock drainage began to emerge from several seeps a few hundred feet from Little Fork Creek. Brewer Gold constructed a plant to treat the contaminated water and received a permit from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) that allowed the treated water to be discharged to Little Fork Creek. Brewer operated the treatment plant from 1995 -1999.
Surface and ground water have been contaminated with acid mine drainage and metals from prior site mining operations.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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An interim Record of Decision (ROD) for the site was issued in 2005. The ROD detailed interim cleanup activities for the site, including:
- Collecting contaminated seepage from several springs downgradient of the backfilled pits and injecting it into the B-6 Pit.
- Pumping contaminated water out of the B-6 Pit and from the sediment pond and storing it in a lined storage pond.
- Treating all contaminated water with lime in an on-site wastewater treatment plant and discharging the treated water into the Northwest Trend Pit.
- Periodically removing sludge from the Northwest Trend Pit, drying the sludge, and storing it in on-site piles.
- Evaluating the potential for contaminants to be released from sludge while it is stored. If it is determined that contaminants could be released, developing and implementing a sludge management plan pending development of a final cleanup plan.
- Monitoring water quality of the effluent discharge and surface water in the Little Fork Creek.
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 Public Comment Period on the proposed plan is February 28 to March 31, 2013 and the Public Meeting will be held at Jefferson Elementary School, 809 W Elizabeth St., Jefferson, SC on February 28, 2013 from 7 pm to 9 pm.
in 1995, SCDHEC developed and issued an Administrative Order on Consent that required Brewer to close and reclaim the mine.
EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities at the Brewer Mine site to solicit community input and to ensure that the public remains informed about site activities throughout the site cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices, interviews, and public meetings on cleanup activities and updates.
The interim cleanup activities are ongoing, with continuing operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment system and necessary support facilities.
The FS is scheduled for completion in summer 2011 with the final ROD scheduled for completion in September 2011.
Site Administrative Documents
For more information or to view any site-related documents, please visit the site information repository at the following location. As new documents are generated, they will be placed in the information repository for public information.
Fannie D. Lowry Memorial Branch Library
North Main Street
Jefferson, SC 29718
For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.