FAIRBANKS - About 45,000 gallons of cyanide water solution spilled onto a mine road at the Fort Knox gold mine late Thursday after a bulldozer struck a supply line, according to a Friday notice from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
The DEC reported that much of the spill zone is atop a lined area of the heap leach pile, which is an area that holds material that is treated with the cyanide water solution.
The buried 12-inch pipeline carrying the cyanide solution was broke open when it was struck by the bulldozer’s ripper blade, the DEC report said. The rupture and spill were discovered at 9 p.m. Thursday and were reported to DEC less than an hour later.
The DEC report said mine operators used heavy equipment to create a raised berm along the spill area to prevent the liquid from spreading and to keep it away from vehicle traffic.
DEC sent an investigator to the site and will monitor the cleanup, the report said. The area is also being surveyed to determine the extent of the affected area.
Fort Knox is located 26 miles northeast of Fairbanks. The mine, owned by Kinross, began operating in 1996 and in April 2011 poured its 5 millionth ounce of gold. It is expected to continue operating until 2021.
Contact managing editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585.