Water So Toxic It Will Dissolve a Metal Boat
Not many people feel the urge to go boating on Berkeley Pit Lake in Butte Montana, but those who do use a fiberglas boat. That’s because the amazingly toxic waters will dissolve the boat as you cruise the lake. So like: no skinny dipping!
Berkeley Lake is an abandoned copper mine filled with about forty billion gallons of a uniquely toxic liquid, acidic and contaminated with a witches brew of poisonous heavy metals such as metal sulphates of iron, copper, aluminum, and zinc. As the largest Superfund site in the country, the mile by mile-and-a-half lake remains the responsibility of the Atlantic Richfield Company (now BP!) and Montana Resources*.
During a blizzard in 1995, hundreds of snow geese landed on the lake looking for shelter. The frozen bodies were found when the e weather cleared, their gullets and gastrointestinal tracts eroded. BP-Arco/Montana Resources are now committed by a 2002 consent degree to try and keep water fowl away from the lake.
No fishing of course.
With the company’s pumps shut down since 1982, the Pit is continuing to fill with acidic water at a rate of several feet a year. Once it gets to about 5,410 above sea level, it will begin migrating into the surrounding aquifers and the drinking water of Butte. But the mining companies say they are not going to let that happen. And if you can’t trust BP, well…
* The company website is pretty insistent about their excellent record of environmental stewardship.