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Berkeley Pit water being pumped to stop 37 years of water rising in Butte

BUTTE – For 37 years the toxic water in Butte’s Berkeley Pit has been rising. A new pumping system at Montana Resources that went online last week has stopped the rise.

“The whole  Berkeley Pit systems has been filling up with water flowing into it since 1982,  since last week that’s the first time the Berkeley Pit system has not had a net inflow of water into it,” said Mark Thompson of Montana Resources.

Two pumping stations recently installed at MR are pulling water from the pit and taking some of the water the Horseshoe Bend Treatment plant and to the tailings impoundment for temporary storage.

“We measure as the inflow to the Berkeley Pit is about 2.8 million gallons a day, so we’re pumping 3 million gallons per day right now and we’ll see what impact that has,” said Thompson.

The Atlantic Richfield Company, which started the pit, is building a polishing plant off Continental Drive to help purify the pit water and remove some of it from the Montana Resources property.

“They’re building a series of filter that water comes out of the tailings impoundment and goes to their filter plant, gets its finally polishing, final filtration and then goes to Silver Bow Creek,” said Thompson.

The polishing plant is expected to be ready by July.

John Emeigh

John Emeigh

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