Lead spill cleaned up on road from Red Dog Mine

Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2000

KOTZEBUE (AP) -- About 30 tons of lead concentrate has been cleaned up on the road from the Red Dog Mine to the port facility and is being reprocessed, officials say.

That came less than a week after a truck jackknifed, spilling the sand-like concentrate on the road and surrounding tundra, Cominco Alaska said.

The cleanup was delayed several days because of high winds, but the spilled material was covered with a tarp so it wouldn't blow away.

No one was hurt in the accident, which occurred Oct. 9. The cleanup began Oct. 14 and lasted two days.

Officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation were there to serve as monitors.

The agency's Jeff Conn said there was no risk of the material going into the ground because the soil was frozen.

''We will be doing soil testing,'' Conn told The Arctic Sounder. ''It is located quite some distance from any water, and that's a good thing.''

Conn said there should be no effects on animals since the material was covered immediately.

''We don't have any water issues,'' said Jim Kulas, environmental and risk manager for Cominco Alaska.

A back-hoe, vacuum truck and individuals using shovels worked to clean up the spill. Workers who handled the lead concentrate were required to wear respirators, Kulas said.

The spill covered a 50-foot section of the road and about 20 feet of tundra.

The cause of the accident remains unknown. The road was icy at the time and the driver probably lost control going around a curve, Kulas said.

The road is used by about 40- to 50 trucks per day.

''The last spill was a year-and-a-half ago in the summer of '99,'' Kulas said. ''Since that time, we've hauled about a million-and-a-half-tons of matter.''

About 1 million tones of zinc concentrate and 152,000 tons of lead concentrate were moved from the mine in 1999, Cominco Alaska said.

Lead concentrate is used primarily by the automotive industry for car batteries.

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