Disused Mine May Pollute River

There are fears that rising water levels at a disused mine in Cornwall could pollute a river.

The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation at Wheal Jane, an abandoned mine near Baldhu.

New pump ordered for Wheal Jane operation

Fire crews assisting the pumping operation Credit: ITV Westcountry

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has requested a second pump from the National Coordination Centre in London to help with the operation to relieve flooding in the decommissioned Wheal Jane tin mine near Truro.

The Centre has also been asked to send a high volume pump advisor to help.

There are fears that if levels continue to rise it could lead to pollution of the River Carnon and the Fal Estuary.

Levels are being monitored by the Environment Agency who are working with the Coal Board and plant operations to relieve the situation. The Public Health and Protection Agency is also assisting while Maritime Services are working with local oyster fishermen.

Additional pump help to stop pollution

An additional pump supplied by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is helping to contain minewater at Wheal Jane near Baldhu, Cornwall and reduce the risk of pollution in the nearby Carnon River and Fal estuary.

The pump was successfully lowered into a mine shaft last night (Wed).

Despite the extra help from the fire service, the water is still rising, but at a reduced rate and levels are being carefully monitored. The seven existing pumps are removing 375 litres per second from the mineshaft.

The Fire Service pump has boosted the volume to 450 litres per second. Rainfall has reduced and the outlook is calmer for the next few days.

In our role as regulator, we are continuing to work with the Coal Authority and the site operator as well as with all our other partner organisations to explore ways of alleviating the possible escape of untreated water from Wheal Jane.

– Mark Pilcher, the Environment Agency

Advertisement

Disused mine may pollute river: Full report

by Steve Hardy

The threat of toxic water from an abandoned mine leaking into the Fal estuary in Cornwall, has receded tonight. It follows a mammoth operation to pump out the Wheal Jane mine which has been swollen by the heavy rainfall of the last few days.

There were fears that water from the former tin mine could leak into the nearby Carnon River and then into the Fal. But now, as our Cornwall Corrrespondent Steve Hardy reports, water levels are dropping significantly.

Untreated water from the mine at Wheal Jane near Truro flooded into the Fal estuary in 1992 threatening its valuable marine life and ecology. Overnight a special pump was brought in by the Cornwall Fire and Rescue service to help out.

Rate of water level 'under control'

The rising water levels at the disused Wheal Jane mine in Cornwall have been brought under control.

An additional pump from the fire service has helped control levels.

It was feared untreated water could pollute a nearby river if levels continued to rise.

Our Cornwall correspondent Steve Hardy has the latest:

Rise in water levels at disused mine slowing

Water levels are still rising at Wheal Jane, but at a slower rate than yesterday. Credit: ITV Westcountry

The fire service worked through the night to assist with the pumping of toxic water from a disused mine near Truro.

Pumps are currently at full capacity at Wheal Jane. Levels are still rising, but at a slower rate than yesterday.

There are fears that rising levels could pollute the nearby river and Fal Estuary, a marine special area of conservation, although there has been no pollution so far.

Cornwall mine flooding: full report

Experts are working around the clock to try to stop toxic water from flooding out of a disused mine near Truro - its feared it could end up in the Fal Estuary. Pumps are working at full capacity at Wheal Jane, but levels are still rising.

If they can't get the situation under control, then there's the very real threat that polluted water will enter the nearby Carnon River and there'll be a repeat of a major incident in 1992 which polluted the Estuary.

Steve Hardy reports:

Advertisement

Estuary at risk from polluted waters

Flooding at Wheal Jane in 1992 polluted the Fal estuary.
Flooding at Wheal Jane in 1992 polluted the Fal estuary. Credit: ITV Westcountry

Experts have been working through the night to try to stop toxic water flooding out of a disused mine near Truro.

Pumps are at full capacity at Wheal Jane, but levels there are still rising following heavy rain. It could mean polluted water leaks into the nearby river and Fal Estuary, a marine special area of conservation. The fire brigade has also been called in to help.

In 1992 flooding from the mine turned the estuary into a polluted swamp.

Rising water levels at abandoned mine could pollute river

There are fears that rising water levels at a disused mine in Cornwall could pollute a river.

The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation at Wheal Jane, an abandoned mine near Baldhu.

In normal circumstances, mine water leaving the site is pumped and treated to control pollution.

Seven pumps are working at full capacity at the site, but water levels are still rising in the disused mine shaft following the exceptionally heavy rainfall.

The Environment Agency is working with the site operator, Veolia Ltd, and the coal authority, who manage the treatment of water from the mine.

If water levels in the shaft continue to rise faster than the pumps can abstract the water then there is a possibility that some of the water may leave the mine and enter the Carnon River and Fal estuary untreated.

We are doing all we can to monitor the shaft water levels to understand if or when any spill might occur into the Carnon River.

The water is currently rising at a rate which is faster than the pumps can manage.

With the ground saturated after this week’s rain, there is a risk that mine groundwater will continue to rise over the next week.

The bulk of the mine water will continue to be pumped and treated at the maximum rate but there is a risk that a smaller amount may be discharged and we are working with our partners to assess what the impacts might be.

– Mark Pilcher, Environment Agency