Tuesday afternoon, August 5, 2008 – Butte, MT

Berkeley Pit

Originally uploaded by marymompics

After having lunch at the Uptown Cafe, we searched for the Berkeley Pit. Not too hard to find since it is enormous! And while all the wealth taken out of Butte was a good thing for some people, the Berkeley Pit is now a bad thing for everyone.

It seems that drift mining was no longer economically feasible so in the early 70’s they started open pit mining. The pit got bigger and bigger. Whole neighborhoods were swallowed up by the growing mine. And then, after they decided they got all they were going to get, the mine operators shut the operation down. And they shut off the pumps that were keeping the groundwater out of the mine. In the last 20 years, water has been seeping into the pit and the mine shafts. It is dangerous water full of dissolved minerals. Once the water hits 5410 feet it will invade the water system of Butte. They’ve got about 200 feet left to go. It’s a pretty scary scenario.

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