The two-decade effort to clean up the former Elizabeth Mine in Strafford is finally complete. The final price tag has also come in, and according to the Valley News, it’s more than quadruple the original estimate.
The Environmental Protection Agency Superfund project to clean up the mine started in 2002. At that time, the cost estimate was $16 million, the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $25 million in today’s money.
The actual final cost has come out to more than four times that amount, at $103 million. The EPA project manager for the Elizabeth Mine site tells the newspaper that cost increases are very common in the Superfund program.
Owners and operators, past and present, are normally liable for covering Superfund project costs. However, by the time the EPA learned about the pollution in Strafford, the copper mining companies that worked the Elizabeth Mine were long since out of business. Taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill.