It is extremely poisonous.
Berkeley pit opened in 1955 in the state of Montana by the Anaconda Copper company as a quarry for the extraction of copper. For the first year there were mined up to 17,000 tons of ore per day. Apart from copper in the Berkeley pit were also found gold and silver, but copper was 75% of total production. On the East side of the hill were residential buildings. The company bought them from the owners to expand the quarry. The quarry has replaced underground mining as was more safe and economical.
However, as it turned out later, the danger is not so very small.
In 1982, the Berkeley pit, it was decided to close. Water pumps, located at a depth of 1.2 km, was disabled. Underground water, washing away all the minerals, began to gradually fill the pit with a velocity of 0.3 m per month. Quarry 1.6 km long, 0.8 km wide and 540 m depth was filled with water at 270 m.
As a result, today the Berkeley pit is a dangerous mix of heavy metals and dangerous chemicals – arsenic, cadmium, copper, sulphuric acid, zinc, iron, aluminum. Metals and chemicals in the water so much that some of them can be extracted directly from the water. The pH of the lake is 2.5, which is comparable with the acidity of lemon juice.
Today, the pit water and Berkeley pit are a great environmental problem because the lake water reacts with minerals in the rock. Pyrite and other sulfide minerals decompose, forming acid. According to experts, by 2020 the water will reach the groundwater level and subject to groundwater flow across the area, contaminating water and soil for miles around.
In 1990, the program was developed to solve this problem. On the lake were installed sewage treatment plant. They cleanse and redirect the incoming water to slow down the growth of its level.
In 1995 there was a case when a flock of migrating geese, consisting of more than 300 individuals, got on the lake. None of the birds survived. The new owner of the quarry — Atlantic Richfield Company – denied that toxic water the Berkeley pit caused the death of the geese, attributing to this infection. But the results of studies in the laboratory have shown that the viscera of the dead geese had burns and sores from exposure to high concentrations of copper, cadmium, and arsenic.
In early December 2016, a flock of geese sheltering from a Blizzard on lake Berkeley pit. This camp, by estimates of ecologists, claimed the lives of 3,000 birds.
And yet, despite the obvious unsuitability of the lake water for living beings in the Berkeley pit was discovered new types of bacteria and fungi that could adapt to the harsh conditions of life. Substances that have been isolated from these organisms show selective activity against cancer cells. Scientists believe that they can be used to develop a cure for cancer. Also discovered in the water the microorganisms absorb the contained metals than contribute, though small, but the purification of the reservoir.
Currently, the Berkeley pit is the most toxic lake in the world, despite its dangers, attracts tourists. Close to the water you can not go – it is fenced by a metal lattice. But next, a paid viewing deck, which can be considered a dangerous reservoir and make photo for memory.
The company Atlantic Richfield and Montana Resources, which bought the mine and is responsible for it, believe that their treatment facility, established in 2000, it is able to cope with cleaning water. Representatives of the companies claim that by 2019 there will be a range of works on modernization of work of the cleaning station. However, social activists believe that companies do not keep the situation under control and their treatment plant, perhaps the cheapest way to fix the situation, but not the most effective.
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