Tyne Rivers Trust
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Ten spoil heaps successfully stabilised

We’re celebrating a major landmark in our work to reduce river pollution from metal mining, having stabilised the 10th spoil heap leftover from an abandoned metal mine as part of the second phase of a four year project with the Environment Agency and the Coal Authority.

Metal mines played a major part in Britain’s history, but abandoned mines pollute the Tyne rivers with lead, zinc and cadmium, which harms aquatic life. The location of the mines around Nenthead at the top of the catchment means pollution from the spoil heaps is carried the length of the river to Tynemouth and eventually out to sea.

The four year project which has tackled 17 spoil heaps in total, uses green engineering to prevent toxic sediment from washing into the river, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall.

Natural materials such as log barriers and biodegradable matting are used to stabilise the slopes of the spoil heap, preventing sediment from washing into the river system. It also encourages vegetation to grow which further stabilises the heaps and ensures that river pollution is reduced in the long term.

Jack Bloomer, Deputy CEO of Tyne Rivers Trust says: “Stabilising the tenth spoil heap is a huge achievement and a major landmark for the second phase of the project.

“Some of the spoil heaps are very tall and in remote locations so the logistics of addressing the pollution problems can be very challenging. We’ve used materials that blend into the landscape and will only strengthen the work over time. Now that these spoil heaps are more stable it will reduce pollution washing into the river and improve water quality of the whole of the Tyne catchment.

“We’re looking to tackle even more spoil heaps in the next phase of the project.”

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