13 May 2024
by Alex Brinded

Cumbrian watercourses being polluted by old mine runoff

UK Government agencies propose to capture the metals from abandoned mines before they are released into Gategill Beck.

© Benjamin Elliott / Unsplash

The Coal Authority and Environment Agency are running two sessions to update the local community on the mine water proporsal at Trelkeld, Keswick, on Tuesday 14 May.

The Environment Agency has found elevated metal concentrations including cadmium, zinc and iron from an old drainage tunnel, known as Woodend Low Level Adit.

The government organisations say the abandoned lead mine water pollutes 25km of watercourse from Gategill Beck to Bassenthwaite Lake, and the River Derwent and tributaries - Sites of Special Scientific Interest. This negatively impacts fish and aquatic life.

Levels of zinc in Gategill Beck can exceed the safe limits for river wildlife by up to 2,500 times, from samples taken immediately downstream of the mine.

The planned work is part of the Water and Abandoned Metal Mines programme, a partnership between the Environment Agency, the Coal Authority, and the Department for Environment, Food and rural Affairs to tackle water pollution from historical metal mining in England.  

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Alex Brinded

Staff Writer