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Mine water spill contained

CLIFF THOMPSON

MINTURN – Several hundred gallons of water polluted by metal from the Eagle Mine at Gilman spilled out of a ruptured pipeline south of Minturn last week.The spill that occurred approximately 200 yards from the water treatment plant was contained before it reached the nearby Eagle River, said Caroline Bradford, director of the Eagle River Watershed Council, an environmental watchdog group. The 12-inch polyethylene pipeline carries metals-laden water from the defunct Eagle Mine at Gilman to a water treatment plant south of Minturn.The break was discovered by a treatment plant worker after the pipe had been leaking for an estimated 30 minutes.The leak was discovered after the pipeline was cleaned of iron scale with an acid bath, Bradford said. After the leak was discovered in the 15-year-old pipe, the system was shut down while a temporary repair was made. A complete repair and cleaning of the line will be done later this month, said Jim Frank of Frank Environmental, which operates the water treatment plant.”Fortunately we caught it in time before it left the property,” he said.It’s the second leak of the mine-water treatment system in the last two years. In January of 2003, about 300 gallons overflowed from the system into the parking lot of the water treatment plant. It, too, was contained before it reached the Eagle River.Water from the Eagle Mine contains iron, zinc, manganese and other metals that pollute the river and potentially degrade water quality below state standards.While the pipeline is out of service, water will be pooled in the Eagle Mine, said Frank.The Eagle Mine shut down in 1985 and when it did, polluted water from the facility and killed all aquatic life in a seven-mile stretch of the Eagle River from the mine to Dowd Junction. The river and mine became a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site.


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