Residents Write In

Below are answers to questions raised by residents. Submit your question using the “Community Feedback” tab.

Questions

Question:

What has been found in the quarry water? I have heard that some hazardous chemicals were being illegally dumped in the quarry years ago. It seems there is no aquatic life in the water. Is this due to the sulfuric acid and manganese content or something else?

Answer:

Surface water collected from the mine pit indicated elevated levels of chromium, copper, cobalt, magnesium, nickel and zinc. Sediment samples collected from the mine pit had levels of arsenic, barium, chromium, copper and lead that exceeded laboratory detection limits.

The mine pit water has a low level of pH. Similar to backyard pools, too much or to little pH in the water can cause skin rashes and other skin ailments. In the case of the mine pit water, the low level of pH (a result of diluted sulfuric acid from the mine tailings) is causing the water to be unable to support and sustain aquatic life. As such, it is highly recommended that people keep away from the mine pit.

During our investigation of the miner pit water, ABB did not detect the presence of any manufactured chemicals, nor do we know of any such chemicals deposited in the mine pit.

 

Question:

I noticed all my clothes staining so we installed a water softener, which has stopped the staining. Does the water softener take any of the manganese out of the water?

Answer:

In general, water with high levels of the dissolved elements of calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese, referred to as hard water, are replaced with sodium ions in the softener unit, eliminating the hard water problem. Depending on your softener, when the zeolite (an ion exchanger) or a chemical matrix (a bed of plastic beads in the softener unit that removes the dissolved elements and replaces them with sodium) in the softener contains nothing but dissolved elements, it's time to regenerate the softener unit.

Regeneration consists of loading the softener unit with salt to create a strong brine that displaces all of the dissolved elements that have built up in the softener and replaces them with sodium. The remaining brine plus all of the dissolved elements are flushed out through a drainpipe.

 

Question:

Why, all of a sudden, is EPA calling this a Superfund site?

Answer:

The Henry's Knob former mine site is not a Superfund site. It is a Superfund alternative site. The difference is a Superfund site is listed on the National Priorities List where a Superfund alternative site is not. However, a Superfund alternative site is subject to the same laws and regulations of a Superfund site, but the remediation of the site will not funded by the U.S. government. ABB, as a potentially responsible party, is paying for the investigation that is underway and for any future activity required by the EPA.

This Superfund classification needs to be corrected by the EPA to a Superfund alternative site.