Monitoring Cleanup at Susie Mine

Near the ghost town of Rimini, Montana, located in a Rocky Mountain canyon, is the abandoned Susie Mine, part of the Upper Tenmile Creek mining area. The Susie Mine was a gold, silver, and lead mine, and has significant high acid drainage polluted with arsenic and heavy metals.

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Near the ghost town of Rimini, Montana, located in a Rocky Mountain canyon, is the abandoned Susie Mine, part of the Upper Tenmile Creek mining area. The Susie Mine was a gold, silver, and lead mine, and has significant high acid drainage polluted with arsenic and heavy metals.

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Entrance to the Susie Mine in Montana, site of a Superfund cleanup effort.

The drainage from this mine is a major source of the heavy metal contamination in streams that flow into the water sources for Helena, Montana. This federal Superfund cleanup site is on the National Priorities List of most-hazardous pollution locations.

At this remote site, MSE Technology Applications installed a reductive-precipitation process inside the mine to treat the acid mine drainage and remove heavy metals prior to discharging into Tenmile Creek. In conjunction with this installation, MSE is monitoring and recording measurements such as pH, temperature, flow, and oxygen level in the mine. The company then transmits that data via meteor-burst technology to a web page.

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MSE Technology Applications personnel inside mine.

Using its experience in automation and control, MSE based the system on the Campbell Scientific CR1000 Measurement and Control Datalogger, along with Meteor Communication Corporation (MCC) meteor-burst technology.

Meteor-burst communication systems transmit data long distances without satellites by bouncing RF signals off the ionized trails of meteors. Using high-speed digital transmission methods, packets of information can be sent during the brief time the ionized trails exist - from a fraction of a second to a few seconds.

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Monitoring system installation inside Susie Mine.

The CR1000 acquires and stores data from multiple sensors and transmits the data to a stationary ground unit. From there it is sent to an Internet site. Site monitoring, especially post-closure monitoring, typically requires extensive data acquisition, processing, and storage. Monitoring is also made more difficult because site infrastructure, such as electrical power lines and telephone lines, are removed.

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Shaft inside Susie Mine. Shown here, interior power panels.

The system’s design accounts for these elements. Developed to address sensor and monitoring needs of the DOE, the data-acquisition system has stood up through grueling Rocky Mountain weather, including large snowfalls, strong winds, and intense cold - and has never lost data.

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Meteor-burst communication system.

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