A SITE HISTORY
The Orphan Mine Site (Site) is located on and below the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park. The Site is approximately two miles northwest of Grand Canyon Village, between Maricopa Point and the Powell Memorial along the Hermit Road. The South Rim Trail detours around the Site.
A SITE LEGACY
The thirteen year legacy of uranium mining at the Orphan Mine resulted in the presence of mine waste on the upper and lower mine areas and on the steep slope down the canyon, leaving the National Park Service with the responsibility to clean up the Site. Access to the upper mine is restricted by two protective fences and a locked gate to protect park visitors from any potential exposure to radiation and other mining-related contaminants. The lower and middle mine areas are generally inaccessible to park visitors. The original “glory hole” in the lower mine area, though isolated, is clearly visible from Maricopa Point.
The National Park Service (NPS) has performed preliminary environmental investigations of the upper mine area and identified areas of elevated radiation levels and other contamination associated with historic mining activities at the Site. NPS determined that further evaluation of the Site pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is needed.
CHANGES ON THE HORIZON
The development of the upper mine area EE/CA occurs in three phases. Phase I was the Man-Made Features Removal project, completed in June 2009, that consisted of removing concrete, debris, and other mining-related equipment from the upper mine area so that field investigation activities such as soil sampling could be performed.
AND NOW FOR YOUR PART
Community involvement is an important part of the CERCLA process. In 2009, public meetings were held in the Park and in Flagstaff, AZ to give the public an opportunity to learn about the Man-Made Features Removal Project and the EE/CA process in general.
Grand Canyon National Park
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you have questions concerning the information contained in this fact sheet, please contact Veronica Dickerson at (440) 665-0915 or by email.
Last updated: March 30, 2020