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Crews Work To Keep Zinc From Mine Out Of Local Waterways

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Crews hope to find the source of contaminated water from the Pennsylvania Mine near Keystone this summer (credit: CBS)

Crews hope to find the source of contaminated water from the Pennsylvania Mine near Keystone this summer (credit: CBS)

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KEYSTONE, Colo. (CBS4)- Colorado’s mountains are covered with abandoned gold and silver mines. Those are often a source of contamination.

That’s the case with Pennsylvania Mine near Keystone where crews are working to stop zinc from leaving the mine and seeping into local waterways.

It’s been a long process for several state agencies including the Forest Service and Summit County.

A major source of frustration for the researchers is that they haven’t been able to actually get inside the mine. That is supposed to change in a few weeks.

Pennsylvania Mine opened in 1879 and closed in the 1940s leaving behind a mess.

“It’s beautiful. I think it’s a shame that it is polluting the water,” said Pennsylvania Mine visitor.

Experts know the water is coming from a certain pipe but they don’t know where within the mine that it’s happening.

This summer they will try to breach the mine to find the source of all the problems.

They are concerned because the water is running down stream and into Peru Gulch where it runs into the Snake River. That’s where the contaminated water is severely diluted.

The Snake River eventually meets Dillon Reservoir which is one of Denver Water’s resources.

The contaminated water is believed to be made up of acid and metals like zinc, copper and iron. Those are not believed to be too harmful to humans once those substances are diluted.

But the same cannot be said for animals. The contamination has destroyed Peru Gulch as a fishery. That’s just one of the reasons the studies and attempts at cleanup have been under way for so long.

Much of what is accomplished this summer will be determined once teams are able to enter the mine.

Remediation work has been under way since the late 80s and many of those involved feel as though they are finally getting close to fixing the pollution problem.

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