WASHINGTON (CN) – The Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration is changing its standards on mining dams. Records for the past 20 years show no deaths, but show catastrophic failures of up to 100-foot dams, some not even designed by engineers, that have done great damage to property.
In Puerto Rico, in 2000, 10 million gallons of water and mine tailings flooded eight lanes of a major highway, leaving tailings up to eight feet thick. In Wisconsin in 1992, flooding tore apart a railroad track and leveled a power line at the mine.
The agency is analyzing its records and considering approaches to protect miners from the hazards of dam failures. It requests information to help it determine how best to proceed.