(By Jamie Henneman/Chewelah Independent)
Agency concerned about tailings…
The Washington State Department of Ecology is currently considering cleanup options for a lead and zinc mine near Orient in order to mitigate any health concerns that may come from the mine’s tailings piles.
The Van Stone mine, located 24 miles northeast of Colville, operated off and on from 1938 to 1993 as an underground and then an open pit lead and zinc mine. Former owner Equinox Resources built a PVC liner to contain the mine waste, or tailings, in 1992 but since then the PVC liner has degraded the liner due to sun exposure. In 2012, heavy spring rains and runoff caused water to build up on the upper tailings pile until it overflowed and washed tailings into a tributary to Onion Creek, dumping arsenic, cadmium, lead and zinc into the water way. Those minerals are a health concern, especially in regards to children potentially being exposed to the lead, according to DOE. The spill was treated as an emergency clean-up by DOE and actions were taken to try and prevent future washouts. More