A figurative drop in the proverbial bucket.
The notoriously toxic Berkeley Pit in Butte holds about 49 billion gallons of contaminated, acidic water.
Dumping 850,000 to 1 million cubic yards of mining and smelting wastes excavated and transported over a prolonged period from sites in Butte is likely to have little effect on the Pit’s water level.
That’s according to Ted Duaime, a Butte-based hydrogeologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. He has monitored the Berkeley Pit for more than 40 years.
He said slumps and landslides in 1998 and 2012 that dumped somewhere between 500,000 cubic yards and 1 million cubic yards in dramatic one-time events resulted in water level rises between 1 foot and 3 feet.
Duaime, like other scientists at this early stage of consideration of the Pit for repository duty, isn’t ready to unequivocally declare its suitability as a waste dump. But he said he supports its candidacy.
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Reflections of clouds are seen on the surface of the Berkley Pit on Tuesday in Butte. The contaminated Pit is being considered as a