Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Berkeley Pit, Butte, Montana

Aug 1, 2012
Flying from Butte Airport, Montana.

'The Lady of the Mountain' overlooking the Berkeley Pit minesite at Butte.

The mine was abandoned in 1982, and the pit is since filling with water,
now 900 ft deep, and almost full....... what then???
It's reacted with mine waste to become sulphuric acid 
and carries many toxic heavy metals including arsenic.......

In 1995 a flock of 342 migrating snow geese landed on the water, and all died....
Later, scientists discovered micro organisms living in this toxic water.
Those microbes not only survive in that environment, but they also have an amazing ability to capture and precipitate those heavy metals,
so they're being developed further to try to clean up such messes.
But the clincher to the story is 
the only other place in the world where those organisms have been found
is in the poop of snow geese......
So, if the geese hadn't landed there???

As you can see from other flights I've done in Australia, I have an interest in mine workings.
When you approach mine workings on the ground, the mess seems overwhelming.
But when viewed from the air, the destruction and mess is seen to be only a localized blot on the vast area surrounding.
So I don't have a problem with the physical damage confined to the site,
but I do have a problem when I see the pollution that can spread from a mine site.

Sure wouldn't want these pools to get loose in the waterways....

That big white roof just to the right of the airport is Walmart, where I camped for the night, 
very convenient.

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