Barrier put in mine that sent toxic water into 3 states


Barrier put in mine that sent toxic water into 3 states
  1. Barrier put in mine that sent toxic water into 3 states
    canada.com
    DENVER — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is installing a barrier and valve inside an inactive Colorado mine to prevent another surge of wastewater like a 2015 blowout that contaminated rivers in three…
    Business
 

In this July 27, 2017 photo Peter Butler of the volunteer Animas River Stakeholders Group speaks at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wastewater treatment plant in the San Juan Mountains outside Silverton, Colo. The plant treats water flowing from the Gold King Mine, where the EPA inadvertently triggered a spill of 3 million gallons of wastewater in 2015. The EPA is installing a barrier and valve inside the mine to regulate the flow of wastewater. (AP Photo/Dan Elliot)

DENVER — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is installing a barrier and valve inside an inactive Colorado mine to prevent another surge of wastewater like a 2015 blowout that contaminated rivers in three states.

The 12-inch (30-centimetre) valve will regulate wastewater pouring from the Gold King Mine in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, where the EPA inadvertently triggered a wastewater spill while excavating at the mine entrance in August 2015.

That spill released 3 million gallons (11 million litres) of wastewater containing aluminum, iron and other heavy metals and instantly became a major embarrassment for the EPA.

Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were tainted. Irrigators, water utilities and rafting companies temporarily stopped using the Animas and San Juan rivers. The EPA says water quality quickly returned to pre-spill levels.

The valve will be mounted in a steel-and concrete barrier about 70 feet (20 metres) inside the mine. The barrier will have water-tight access doors so workers and equipment can get deeper into the mine for cleanup and investigation.

The EPA is also drilling a 170-foot (50-meter) horizontal well into another part of the Gold King to drain any water building up there. That water would be routed through a temporary treatment plant below the mine where wastewater draining from the main entrance is cleaned up.

The EPA said it can control the flow of wastewater from the new drain to avoid another blowout.

The documents did not say say how much the work will cost and the EPA did not immediately respond to emails and a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.

The work is expected to be completed next month.

Peter Butler, a leader of the volunteer Animas River Stakeholders Group, which works to improve water quality in the area, said he agreed with th…

Barrier put in mine that sent toxic water into 3 states