Leadville drainage tunnel declared safe | SummitDaily.com

Leadville drainage tunnel declared safe

The estimated billion gallons of water trapped in a tunnel in the hills overlooking Leadville poses “no imminent public safety hazard,” despite the county’s emergency declaration over fears of a catastrophic blowout, according to a Bureau of Reclamation study.

A draft report released Monday said it’s “unlikely there would be a sudden release of water from the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel.”

In a statement, the bureau said it evaluated the risk from the tunnel using a process similar to one used to assess the risk at its dams.

In declaring an emergency in February, Lake County commissioners feared the water trapped behind a collapse in the tunnel could blow at any moment with devastating effects, sweeping away mobile homes in the town of 2,600.

The trapped water was enough to fill about 1,500 Olympic-size swimming pools.

County Commissioner Carl Schaefer said the report is a starting point for a discussion and doesn’t provide new information on the bureaucratic log jam that led to the backup of water over the years.

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