Feds: Water Trapped In Tunnel Poses Little Risk

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Denver (AP) A federal report says the estimated billion gallons of water trapped in a Leadville mine tunnel poses no imminent safety hazard.

The results of the report released today comes four months after Lake County Commissioners issued an emergency declaration over fears of a catastrophic blowout.

The study by the Bureau of Reclamation says a sudden release of water from the Leadville mine drainage tunnel is unlikely. The bureau says that's because the roof collapse that caused the blockage inside the tunnel is stronger than first estimated.

The report says that even if water were to burst through the blockage, the force would be insufficient to wash away a constructed bulkhead downstream.

Commissioners feared the water trapped in the tunnel could blow and sweep away mobile homes in the town of 2,600. The trapped water is enough to fill about 1,500 olympic-size swimming pools.

An emergency plan is under way to drill a well into the tunnel and pipe water to the bureau's water treatment plant at the mouth of the tunnel.

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