Red Dog Mine
|Summary Date: August 2010||
View detailed information from
database on this site.
See related information on dust issues on DEC's
Air Quality Program web pages on Red Dog
|Status: Active||Database Name: Red Dog Mine|
|Location: North of Kotzebue, AK||
Latitude/ Longitude: See database entry
DEC Contaminated Sites Contact: Rich Sundet, Project Manager - 907-269-7578
This web page is designed to show current information to control fugitive dust and prevent health effects to people living or working near the Red Dog Mine, north of Kotzebue and near the communities of Kivalina and Noatak. For information concerning other environmental issues on the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) web site which relate to the mine, type "Red Dog" into the search window at the upper right corner of this page.
Risk assessment: Teck Cominco has written a risk assessment, "DMTS Fugitive Dust Risk Assessment", to assess the public health and environmental impacts of fugitive dust deposited along the transportation system. The draft was available for public comment, and the risk assessment is now final and accepted by DEC. To download the risk assessment, follow this link.
Draft Risk Management Plan - Teck Cominco has developed a draft Risk Management Plan to manage fugitive dust issues from all mine activities, including addressing risks identified in the risk assessment report. The plan defines and will guide actions to minimize the potential for effects to human health and the environment from fugitive dust from the Red Dog operation, including the mine, road, and port. Although the plan is a voluntary effort, it covers multiple regulatory programs related to fugitive dust and includes planned efforts to address:
Effects of fugitive dust identified in Teck Cominco’s November 2007 Delong Mountain Transportation System Fugitive Dust Risk Assessment for areas surrounding the mine boundary, road, and port. (More information available below on this page.)
Effects of fugitive dust within the mine’s solid waste boundary, evaluated as part of the closure and reclamation planning process. (More information available on the Alaska Department of Natural Resources website.)
Fugitive dust issues identified in the Memorandum of Understanding between DEC and Teck Cominco. (More information available on DEC's air quality web pages on Red Dog.)
Fugitive dust considerations identified in the supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the Aqqaluk Pit Extension. (More information available at www.reddogseis.com/.)
DEC held a public comment period from September 1 to October 15, 2008, on portions of the plan related to effects identified in the November 2007 Delong Mountain Transportation System Fugitive Dust Risk Assessment. Portions of the plan include monitoring of vegetation for metal concentrations, and for health of the vegetation community (see Sections 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 of the draft plan). DEC's comments about that plan appear below. The measures to address the risk assessment will be part of various sub-plans. The plans are posted as they become available. Documents appear in reverse chronological order.
Teck Cominco's Draft Communication Plan, March 31, 2009, (PDF 1.16 MB) DEC did not offer public comment on this because it doesn't involved major technical issues posed by the risk assessment.Other sub-plans, however, may involve these issues. Teck Cominco held a public comment period on it from April 2- May2, '09.
DEC's review of the Draft Risk Management Plan and responses to comments, June 19, 2009, (PDF 1.56 MB)
Public notice (PDF20K)
Air monitoring in Noatak and Kivalina:
The Red Dog Mine is located in the DeLong Mountains north of Noatak, about 90 miles north of Kotzebue and approximately 55 miles inland from the Chukchi Sea, in the western end of the Brooks Range of Northern Alaska. Now the world's largest zinc mine, Red Dog is located on land owned by the NANA Regional Corporation, Inc., an Alaska Native corporation. Teck Cominco Alaska Inc. operates the mine. Operations began in 1989.
Ore containing lead sulfide and zinc sulfide is mined and milled to produce concentrated lead and zinc powder. These concentrates are trucked year-round from the mine along a 55-mile road through Cape Krusenstern National Monument to the shallow-water port for storage and eventual loading onto ships when the port is ice-free, only about 100 days a year. From the storage buildings the concentrated ores travel on an enclosed conveyor system to the ship loader and into barges. The barges have built-in and enclosed conveyors to load the holds of deepwater ships.
A moss study performed in 2000 by the National Park Service (Ford and Hasselbach 2001, downloadable pdf file, 699K) found elevated concentrations of metals in tundra along the road and near the port, apparently resulting from escaping ("fugitive") dust from operations along the transportation corridor. ADEC began work to determine the extent of contamination from this dust along the DeLong Mountain Regional Transportation System (DMTS), which includes the entire transportation corridor from the mine to the port, including the road, the port facilities, and the barges. The Contaminated Sites program is now overseeing that work and also addressing historic spills of petroleum products at the mine.
Teck Cominco has made a number of operational changes in the past few years to reduce fugitive dust from its operations (see more detail below). In the meantime, a remedial investigation is being conducted for Teck Cominco by the firm Exponent to assess the public health and environmental impacts of fugitive dust deposited along the transportation system. The first step was to characterize the contamination, then assess the risk to nearby residents, workers, subsistence food gatherers and the environment Based on information in the risk assessment, DEC will determine what next actions need to be taken at the site to minimize risk to human health and the environment.
Public Health and Environmental Concerns
Of concern is possible exposure to elevated concentrations of metals, particularly lead, zinc and cadmium, found in the soil, mosses and dust on vegetation adjacent to the haul road. As a result, metals present in the ore concentrates and in the environments surrounding the haul road are being evaluated through the risk assessment process.
A study conducted in 2001 by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Environmental Public Health Program, found that it was safe to continue eating subsistence foods. Also, prior work found that the form of lead present in the concentrates is less easily absorbed by the body than other forms of lead. The risk assessment will evaluate exposures and risks in greater detail.
Organic compounds associated with former petroleum hydrocarbons are not being investigated as part of the risk assessment because they occur in very localized areas at former petroleum spill sites, primarily at the port site. These organic compounds generally occur at depth or beneath pavement, and therefore are not in a place where human exposure occurs.
The areas surrounding the DMTS where fugitive dust has been deposited are being evaluated to determine what risks the fugitive dust deposition poses to human health and the environment and what actions may be necessary to reduce those risks. The process used is the state's contaminated sites cleanup process laid out in regulation (see more on the cleanup process). This process allows a risk assessment to be conducted to get very specific information to estimate possible risks to humans, plants, animals and the environment posed by current and future exposure to metals in soil, water, sediments, and biota in areas surrounding the DMTS. The results of the risk assessment will help risk managers to determine what additional actions may be necessary to reduce those risks.
The risk assessment evaluates whether people and the environment could be exposed to possibly hazardous substances and assesses what the risks are from exposure. It is used by DEC managers to determine whether any additional cleanup or control measures are necessary. During preparation of the risk assessment it is important for residents to continue to provide information about how they use the land and what foods they gather so this information can be considered. Much information has been gathered from village meetings and direct contact with DEC, and has been incorporated into the risk assessment.
Summary of work, 2001 - 2005
2001 and 2002: Sampling and laboratory analysis were conducted to characterize the nature and extent of fugitive dust deposition at the site. The results included lead, zinc, and cadmium concentrations in road surface soil, creek water, and vegetation along the DMTS road and at the port facility; marine and lagoon surface water and sediment data; and tundra soil at the port facility.
January 2003: A description of the dust deposition patterns, concentrations, and how people and animals could be exposed to the dust (a conceptual site model) was developed and approved by DEC.
January-February 2003: A draft workplan for the risk assessment was developed and submitted to DEC in January. A public review and comment period for the draft was completed in February. Public meetings also were held in the villages of Kivalina and Noatak in early February. Three parties submitted written comments on the draft work plan.
2003 Field sampling: A plan was submitted to DEC in mid-June 2003 for more field sampling and analysis to gather physical data (e.g., soil, water, and sediment in tundra, freshwater, lagoon, and marine environments) still needed for the risk assessment, or "data gaps." DEC provided comments on the plan in late June. Marine sediment sampling was conducted in late June 2003, before the start of the ore concentrate shipping season, and again in September during the shipping season. The majority of the field data was collected in mid-to-late July. The 2003 sampling program focused on characterizing additional compounds in sediment and water in the marine and freshwater environments, and soil, tundra soil, and moss in the terrestrial environments. Plant and animal ("biota") sampling is planned for the 2004 field season. Results of the 2003 sampling are documented in Appendix A of the February 2004 revised risk assessment workplan.
Risk assessment work plan: In 2003, DEC provided comments regarding the risk assessment workplan that it received in January 2003 to Teck Cominco through teleconferences and in writing. A revised plan was submitted to DEC in February 2004, including a detailed look at possible contaminants using the additional analytical data obtained from the summer 2003 field effort. The work plan addresses issues raised in DEC's and other stakeholders' comments on the draft work plan. DEC reviewed the revised work plan and provided comments to Teck Cominco through teleconferences and in writing (April 2004).
Comment responsiveness summary: DEC has prepared a comment responsiveness summary to show how stakeholder comments were taken into account in the revised risk assessment work plan. The summary was mailed in February 2004 to stakeholders who commented on it. It is also downloadable below.
2004 Field sampling: A plan was submitted to DEC in April 2004 for biota sampling. DEC approved a revised plan on June 2, 2004. Sampling began in early June 2004. The findings are in appendix E of the draft Risk Assessment report (see below).
The draft risk assessment report: Following the completion of the summer 2004 field sampling, the additional data was evaluated and used in the completion of the draft risk assessment report, which was available for public comment April 12 through July 11, 2005. Download it below.
Comments on the draft Risk Assessment: DEC gave its comments to Teck Cominco on September 8, 2005. Teck Cominco will respond to those comments. DEC will also work with Teck Cominco to resolve differences in the comments and will develop a Responsiveness Summary to the groups/individuals who commented on the draft report. Concurrently to this, Teck Cominco is drafting a management plan to address the outstanding issues raised in the risk assessment and work with DEC in the development of that document.
Fugitive dust control measures
Many improvements have been made to equipment and operations at the port to control fugitive dust. Teck Cominco estimates that they have spent approximately $11 million on facilities upgrades to improve fugitive dust control, and another $4 million on fugitive dust studies and the risk assessment, between 2001 and spring 2004. Monitoring programs continue and are expanding to help assess the results of the improvements. Here are more details on these efforts, provided by Teck Cominco:
2002 roadbed concentrate recovery and recycling program -During July 2002, extensive road surface sampling took place on both a 5-mile portion of the DMTS road from the port toward the mine, and also on the loop road providing access to the concentrate storage buildings. Concentrate material was recovered and recycled at the Red Dog mine according to a work plan approved by DEC in June of 2002.
Test paving of the road -A 5-mile test strip of experimental road surface (Hi-Float) was placed at the port site during July 2002 after the roadbed sampling, recovery, and recycling program was completed. The test sections are being monitored for two years to evaluate 1) the durability of the Hi-Float road surfacing, 2) its suitability for controlling tracking and reducing fugitive dust from the DMTS road, and 3) whether road surface and equipment maintenance requirements are reduced.
Improvements to the Red Dog port site fugitive dust control system- Extensive improvements have been made to improve control of fugitive dust at the port, including a new truck unloading building, improvements at the concentrate storage buildings, at the conveyors and the surge silo between conveyors, at the barge loader, and on the barges. In spring of 2003, before the start of the shipping season, nearly $4 million dollars was invested in improvements to both the barge loader and the barges to control fugitive dust. A new bag house was installed and all of the seals on the conveyors that carry concentrate to the barges were upgraded. The barge loader conveyor was also enclosed to prevent escaping dust. The modifications were completed on June 20, 2003 , about 2 weeks before shipping started. The barge dust control systems were modified in a similar manner. In the spring 2003, representatives of Kivalina, NANA, DEC, DNR, and EPA visited the port site to observe the barge loading operations.
Truck spill sites -Since the start of the Red Dog operation, a number of truck spills have occurred. While most of the spilled concentrate was recovered at the time of the incident, data to document recovery efforts on older spills was sparse. A study characterizing these sites was completed during 2003. The operation has been implementing a program to recover, recycle, and restore/revegetate the former spill sites. All but one of these sites were completed by May 1, 2004 . The remaining site is within the mine area, and will be addressed next winter (when the ground re-freezes).
Port site characterization and recovery efforts -The 2002 port site characterization was a significant program focused on defining the nature and extent of fugitive dust at the port. During 2002, recovery and recycling were conducted at numerous active and inactive areas of the facility that had elevated metals concentrations in soil. Characterization continued in 2003 and the 2003 information is included in Appendix A of the revised risk assessment workplan.
Ongoing monitoring program -Air monitoring at the port and along the DMTS road continued in 2003. A surface sampling program was conducted in 2003 for the newly installed Hi-Float road at the port facility. The near-shore marine sampling at the load-out facility also continued at an expanded level over the 2002 effort, and will be conducted again in 2004. These monitoring efforts are intended to provide information necessary for evaluating the effects of control measures on fugitive dust emissions.
Air monitoring in Noatak and Kivalina - Teck Cominco has been monitoring the air in Noatak and Kivalina to determine the levels of lead in airborne dust in both villages. This monitoring addresses village concerns about air quality and also fulfills the requirements of a settlement agreement with DEC. Teck Cominco is required to conduct one year of monitoring at both villages. The Noatak monitoring period (conducted between March 13, 2003 and March 13, 2004 ) was recently concluded. Preliminary results for Noatak show lead levels are at least 80 times below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead. Early results for Kivalina are also very favorable, indicating lead levels are about 200 times below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard.
For more recent information on the risk assessment and risk management plan, see update at top of page.
More Information, Recent Reports
Comments on the Draft DMTS Fugitive Dust Risk Assessment Prepared by Exponent for Teck Cominco Alaska Incorporated (April 2005)
Figures (pdf file 1.5 MB)
Tables (pdf file 528K) NOTE: this table was revised 6/7/05.
Photographs (pdf file 39 MB)
Front of Volume II - Appendices, cover and table of contents (pdf file 715 K)
Appendix A, summary of Phase I Sampling Program (pdf file 2.6 MB)
Appendix B, Data Quality Review for Phase I Sampling Program (pdf file 62 K)
Appendix C, Inorganic Chemical Data Used in Contaminants of Potential Concern Screening, and Appendix D Organic Chemical Data (pdf file 1.37 MB)
Appendix E, Summary of Phase II Sampling Program for the DMTS Fugitive Dust Risk
Appendix F, Data Quality Review for the Phase II Sampling Program for the DMTS Fugitive
Appendix G, Additional Data Used in the Risk Assessment (pdf file 444 K)
Appendix H, Subsistence Foods Data Evaluations (pdf file 1.88 MB)
Appendix I, Vegetation Community Surveys (pdf file 967 K)
Appendix J, Photographs of Typical Biota Samples (pdf file 832 K)
Appendix K, Food Web Model Tables (pdf file 619 K
Links off DEC pages
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) search page to browse for Red Dog Mine information