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Windblown Mine Tailings Cause Haze Over Butte

Butte Montana Airfield
5of7, Flickr

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Windblown mine tailings created a haze over Butte, leading health officials to suggest that people with respiratory problems avoid being outside.

The Montana Standard reports (http://bit.ly/11uzDlK) dust from the Yankee Doodle Tailings cast a haze over the city Tuesday morning, but dissipated by the afternoon.

Paul Riley monitors air quality for the Butte-Silver Bow County Health Department. He called the dust a “significant problem.”

Montana Resources spokesman Tad Dale says the tailings became airborne after ice that was holding the top layer of tailings in place sublimated, or turned directly into gas, freeing the small particles to be carried away by the strong winds.

He said mining operation turned on a third line to pump water onto the tailings area to prevent more particles from blowing away.

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