Mar 07, 2019

Toxic Water in Montana Steadily Rising

Pit water in Butte, Mont., could be pumped into SIlver Bow Creek at the end of this month

 Pit water in Butte, Mont., could be pumped into SIlver Bow Creek at the end of this month
Pit water in Butte, Mont., could be pumped into SIlver Bow Creek at the end of this month.

In Butte, Mont., the toxic water steadily rising in Butte’s Berkeley Pit will be pumped out and cleaned.

“For the first time in 30 years, the pit won’t be rising, the water level in the pit won’t be rising,” said Mark Thompson of Montana Resources to KXLF.

According to KXLF, Montana Resources and Atlantic-Richfield Co. have almost completed its polishing plant on Continental Drive, which is the final step in treating water taken from the pit. That water can then be discharged into Silver Bow Creek.

This will stop the pit water from rising to the critical water level, which it is within 60 ft of at this time. According to KXLF, the project had to be completed by 2023, but the plant has an early start.

“We’ll have the ability to drop it if we want to or let it rise if we want to, whatever makes sense based on this pilot plan on where it’s best to hold the Berkeley Pit,” Thompson said to KXLF.

Much of the pit water will be treated at the Horseshoe Bend plant and used at the mine, according to KXLF. The rest will continue to the new polishing plant.

“But it takes a little extra filtration before it can be discharged to Silver Bow Creek,” Thompson said to KXLF.

According to KXLF, after the Berkeley Pit water goes through its final treatment at the polishing plant, they will send the water right down the waterline, head west and then discharge it in Silver Bow Creek where it converges with Blacktail Creek.

“Well, we’re hoping to get started hopefully at the end of this month discharging up to about 3 million gallons a day and as the polishing facility gets fully built out, it will have a capacity of 10 million gallons a day,” Thompson said to KXLF.

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