Thursday March 28, 2024

Juneau Empire

Emergency federal government assessments are being sought for a spill of more than 105,000 gallons of tailings slurry at the Kensington Mine that occurred Jan. 31, although officials with mine owner Coeur Alaska say no damage to nearby salmon habitats occurred and there are “no long-term effects from this spill.”

The spill occurred at a welded joint in a pipeline that likely started as a “pinhole” and increased in size due to pressure from the slurry flow, resulting in a leak that lasted 23 hours, according to a report of the incident published by Coeur on Thursday. About half of the tailings from the gold mine about 45 miles northwest of Juneau reached a creek about 430 meters away that drains into Berners Bay, although according to the company much of the flow was diverted.

“Upon discovery of the leak, mill shutdown was initiated immediately,” an executive summary of the report states. “A response team was quickly assembled to place straw watles in drainages to further prevent tailings from entering Johnson Creek. Heavy equipment was deployed to the scene to remove tailings from Pipeline Road. Within 40 minutes of the spill discovery water samples were taken to characterize any impact to Johnson Creek.”

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