Silver Bow Kiwanis

Silver Bow Kiwanis Kiwanis Club Meeting, Feb 4, '14

12:00-1:00 Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Larger map and driving directions

Butte Perkins
2900 Harrison Ave.
Butte, MT 59701

This week Cathy let us know that Pam Olson will be our speaker next week talking about the fundraiser for the roof on the historic St. Lawrence Church at the top of Main Street.

Marc gave us an update on DJ O'Neill's status. He has started chemo. Cathy reports that he looked healthy when she saw him over the weekend, though somewhat more sedated than usual.

We were joined by David from the Circle K.

Keith provided additional information on the updated Kiwanis International youth safety requirements. When children have prescription medications and are attending a Kiwanis event, the children should have their parents present or a note from the parents to let the Kiwanis advisors know what the medication is and how it is dosed. Also, Kiwanians and other adults present at Kiwanis events put on by, for, or benefiting children should refrain from consuming alcohol or using tobacco products during any portion of the event.

Jeremy introduced our speaker, Nick Tucci from the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. Nick is a hydrogeologist for the Bureau. The Bureau employees 60 geologists as well as a few hydrogeologists and about 20 students.

Nick spoke about the mines in Butte and the Berkley Pit. over 100 billion dollars worth of metals (at today's prices) were extracted from Butte mines. This metal was used throughout the United States and around the world.

Over 10,000 miles of underground tunnels were dug as parts of mining operations. While the mines were operating, there were pumps in several locations pumping ground water out of the mines to prevent these tunnels from flooding while people were working in them.

Even during the operation of the mines, some areas that were no longer being used got walled off and were allowed to fill. When operations stopped in the 1980s, the company turned off the existing pumps, most of which were fairly low in the tunnel and mine structure and the system started filling.

In the 1990s a limit was established at 5,410' elevation as the maximum level the water is allowed to reach. This gives a 100' barrier before the water reaches the rim of the pit, and also provides a significant barrier between the contaminated water from the mines and the natural groundwater.

There are 22 monitoring wells inside the MRI mining area, and another 16 outside the immediate area, as well as two nested monitoring wells inside and three nested monitoring wells outside. The nested wells are used to test water quality at multiple levels at the same place. The monitoring wells are used to monitor water elevation. Of these monitoring wells, there are 9 point of compliance wells. These are the ones that speficially cannot have the water reach an elevation of 5,410'. The two that are expected to reach that elevation first are the Pilot Butte and the Anselmo. Current estimates are that these wells will reach that level sometime in May of 2013.

Before the monitoring wells reach that level, there are several things that Arco and MRI need to do. Most important is that five years before the water reaches that level, the companies need to demonstrate that their pumps are in place and that they can treat the water to meet or exceed all drinking water standards and all EPA inorganic contaminant standards for freshwater fisheries. They also need to demonstrate that they can treat the water at least as fast as it is entering the bedrock aquifer (the water feeding into the Pit). The current expectation is that the active mining operations will use this water, rather than the water they currently pump from Silver Lake west of Anaconda.

The Horseshoe Bend Treatment Plant is already set up to process this water, and has been through some testing. The Plant can be seen from the Berkley Pit viewing stand off Shields just north of Mercury. This plant is a fully redundant facility, meaning that for every piece of equipment, there is a backup in place or immediately available in case of failure. This insures minimum (or no) down time in case something breaks.

Nick Tucci, Montana Bureau of Mines
Open Face Turkey Dinner
Event Updated
10:43 Thursday, February 6, 2014