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Mine Cleanup To Create New Land

Community and government officials listen to a description of a repository that will hold about 150,000 truckloads of old mine tailings and waste rock in Nine Mile Canyon, northeast of Wallace on Wednesday. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

More than a century ago, prospectors hit pay dirt in this narrow, forested canyon, extracting a fortune in silver, lead and zinc from four mining operations. But they left towering piles of tailings and other mine waste behind – enough to fill up 150,000 standard-size dump trucks. Now, engineers are working to turn that waste into a natural-looking part of the landscape. The old tailings and waste rock will be gathered up, contoured and capped to form a grassy, 120-foot-high knoll in Nine Mile Canyon. The $84 million project is being paid for with money from Asarco’s bankruptcy settlement. “We’re basically creating an artificial ridge,” said Cody Lechleitner, project manager for CDM Smith, the firm that did the design work. “Our goal is to make it look as natural as a knoll can look. … I hope it becomes good elk habitat.” The cleanup of Nine Mile Canyon is the first big project paid for by the $500 million trust established as part of Asarco’s 2009 bankruptcy settlement/Becky Kramer, SR. More here.

Question: Do you think Superfund remediation efforts in the Silver Valley have been successful so far? (Ah, DeePee, that's your cue.)

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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