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Innovative Work at Bunker Hill Site Receives Engineering Award

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Before revegetation at Magnet Gulch on the Bunker Hill Superfund site. Photo by Cami Grandinetti, Region 10 Site Cleanup Manager.

Before revegetation at Magnet Gulch on the Bunker Hill Superfund site. Photo by Cami Grandinetti, Region 10 Site Cleanup Manager.

Imagine what you would do to address a rugged, barren landscape that was rapidly deteriorating. EPA's regional office in Seattle was looking for a way to quickly address the environmental degradation at the Bunker Hill Superfund site, so they teamed up with their contractor to create a revegetation plan. This was no ordinary effort. The steep slopes and remote location limited access to the site, and the team realized they would have to access the areas primarily by air. Their innovative solution, described in greater detail below, recently earned an Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies for CH2MHill, the contractor performing work at the site, and recognition for EPA as the client.

The Bunker Hill Superfund site covers 21 square miles of Idaho's Silver Valley, an area that was historically among the most productive mining areas in the world. However, over 100 years of intensive mining and smelting activities left their mark on the natural environment. Barren landscapes resulted from the loss of topsoil, and in some locations, erosion had produced gullies that were seven feet deep. The effects of erosion were only magnified by the fact that the site consists of very steep slopes, often stretching over 1000 feet in length. These conditions, combined with acidic soil and heavy metal contamination, left the soil, ground water, and surface water desolate and inhospitable to plant and animal life.

Utilizing helicopters, a mixture of lime, grass seed, and mulch was applied to portions of six barren and eroding watersheds, establishing grasses that quickly stabilized the 1100 acres of land. The team also used a variety of mapping and imagery technology, along with site evaluations of plant species composition and surface water quality, to track the progress of the restoration efforts. These monitoring efforts show that trees, shrubs, and grasses are flourishing and producing new seeds, and wildlife has repopulated the area.

After revegetation at Magnet Gulch on the Bunker Hill Superfund site. Photo by Cami Grandinetti, Region 10 Site Cleanup Manager.

After revegetation at Magnet Gulch on the Bunker Hill Superfund site. Photo by Cami Grandinetti, Region 10 Site Cleanup Manager.

The steep slopes, acidic soil, lack of topsoil, heavy metal contamination, and remote location made this effort one the most complex and challenging revegetation projects in the world. Accordingly, ACEC has presented CH2M Hill with an Honor Award for its achievement in engineering excellence and has offered EPA recognition as the client. For more information, visit www.acec.org. Exit EPA Disclaimer

EPA also held two awards ceremonies to recognize Agency teams and individuals for their accomplishments. The National Honor Awards were held on April 27, 2005 in Washington, DC and honored over 700 EPA staff members nationwide for distinguished service, innovation, excellence in management, professionalism, leadership, and many other successes. Additionally, the National Notable Achievement Awards were held on April 27, 2005 to recognize leaders throughout many Agency programs including the Superfund program. This year's National Notable Achievement Awards winners can be found at www.cluin.org/awards_2005. Exit EPA Disclaimer

 

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