Where a mine supplied a nascent nation, cleanup nears end

STRAFFORD, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont river poisoned by a mine that dates to the United States’ early days is looking good two decades after cleanup began.

Contractors working for the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the federal Superfund program are doing final work on the Elizabeth Mine in Strafford before turning it over to the state for long-term monitoring.

The mine was once important enough to the economy of the young country that President James Monroe visited in 1817.

It stayed in business for decades, feeding industrial, electrification and war efforts before closing in 1958.

For decades, acid- and metal-contaminated water from the waste piles near the abandoned mine left local waterways almost dead.

Now after the estimated $90 million cleanup, the state of Vermont has changed the designation of the Ompompanoosuc River. It now supports aquatic life.

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