Concern contaminated Wheal Jane water may pollute river

An archive picture of Wheal Jane
Image caption Water levels at Wheal Jane have continued to rise since the exceptionally heavy rainfall

Contaminated water from an abandoned mine in mid Cornwall could spill into a nearby river if levels continue to rise, says the Environment Agency.

Seven pumps at Wheal Jane, near Baldhu, are working at "full capacity" following the heavy rain, yet water levels have continued to rise.

If levels continue to rise faster than pumps can abstract, untreated water could enter the Carnon river.

Mark Pilcher from the Environment Agency said: "We are doing all we can."

The water from Wheal Jane mine is contaminated with a range of metals which, untreated, could impact on shellfish and other ecology in the Fal Estuary.

Contaminated water has been abstracted and treated from the mine since 1992 following an drainage burst which caused visible pollution from mine water coloured orange by the high iron content.

As a result of the burst, a government funded treatment plant was commissioned to prevent any future impact on the estuary.

Mark Pilcher from the Environment Agency said the water was currently rising at a rate which is "faster than the pumps could manage" and that there was a risk "a small amount may be discharged".

"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," he added.

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