EDEN, VT - A town meeting vote by residents in Eden and Lowell to reject super fund status for the former asbestos mine, which would have transferred control from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, puts DEC front and center to develop a plan to clean up the site.
According to John Schmeltzer, co-project manager for the Vermont Asbestos Group (VAG) mine site, DEC is continuing short term mediation including: inspection of existing drainage, erosion control, and overseeing maintenance conducted by the property owner. DEC will also conduct periodic monitoring of streams and existing vegetative plots on the tailing piles.
G-1 Holdings is the current owner of the site and despite filing for bankruptcy is making payments for the clean up of the site. G-1 Holdings trust is responsible for perimeter air monitoring and restricting access to the site.
As a part of the bankruptcy settlement G-1 Holdings will pay $100K over the next two years with more to follow after the state has spent $22M on stabilization and clean up. Schmeltzer noted G-1 Holding will pay 8.6 cents on the dollar as part of their financial responsibility for ongoing clean up efforts.
Over the next twelve months, DEC will begin the process of developing a strategy to address the long term erosion issues at the site. Schmeltzer states that without the super fund designation, the state has to investigate funding sources other than state tax dollars.
While there will be no support from the EPA, Schmeltzer said there will be $850K available for natural resources damage through the U.S. Department of Interior. Natural resources damage funds are to be used only for restoration or replacement of the injured natural resource or for the acquisition of an equivalent resource, such as restoring wet lands.
Public hearings will continue to determine what strategies the two towns and DEC can agree upon to develop an effective clean up plan.
Schmeltzer emphasized there will be opportunity for public review and comments throughout the entire process, including periodic meetings with the Eden and Lowell select boards, community groups, and public meetings.
While the EPA will not have jurisdiction over the project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could have a regulatory role with any corrective action that may be contemplated.