Susie Adit

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July 12, 2021 Release into Tenmile Creek 7/15/2021 Site Update

On July 12, 2021, a small amount of sludge, approximately 20-40 gallons, was released during an EPA dewatering operation at the Susie Adit site in Tenmile Creek, west of Helena, Montana. EPA estimates that a 100-foot stretch of Tenmile Creek was impacted by this release, which occurred when a hose sucking up the discharge water at the adit site picked up excess sediment and sludge material when the water level dropped in the area being dewatered. This event was not a “blowout.” The sludge exited the Susie Adit draining to Tenmile Creek in a manner similar to many previous discharge events or “burps” over the past century in this heavily mined and mineralized area. There are no observed or expected impacts to drinking water or aquatic life associated with this discharge. 

The dewatering operation, which has been underway since July 8, was requested by EPA’s Superfund Remedial Program and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in May 2021 to address a collapse of earthen material behind the entrance of the Susie Portal. This collapse caused a blockage of mine-impacted water within the tunnel, which without action to remove mine-impacted water and prevent further degradation of the mine entrance, increases the risk of an uncontrolled release to Tenmile Creek. EPA will resume the dewatering effort in the next few days and will implement supplemental control measures to ensure that additional sludge releases do not occur.  EPA conducted water quality sampling following the July 12 discharge and expects analytical results will be available in the next 24 hours.  Crews will also be removing sludge from the creek at the point of discharge.