EPA Begins Pumping Water Out of Blocked Leadville Tunnel

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Leadville, Colo. (AP) The U.S. Environmental protection agency has begun pumping water out of a blocked mine drainage tunnel that lake county officials feared could cause a catastrophic blowout.

The EPA said Tuesday that it's pumping 2,000 gallons per minute out of the tunnel and sending it through a 4,700-foot pipeline to a Bureau of Reclamation water treatment plant.

Lake County officials in February declared a state of emergency out of fear that this year's record snowmelt could add to an estimated 1 billion gallons of contaminated water backed up inside the shafts.

Lake County officials say disagreement over who's responsible for the water in the Leadville mine drainage tunnel allowed the water to back up.