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Updated on July 2, 2017

The Berkeley Pit

Use and Location

Located in Butte, Montana, the Berkeley Pit was once mined for its silver, gold and copper content. It was created from the combination of several other underground mines. It was utilized from the years 1955 to 1982. Mining was thriving during that time due to the increased demand for electricity of which copper was utilized. The water was so full of copper that it was able to be extracted by chemical precipitation (the copper would separate from the water). Copper extracted from the mine helped to give electricity to all of America. It thrived during 1955-1982 at which time it was closed due to its toxicity. At which time, the waterpumps that were used to keep the pit from filling with water have been turned off. Since then, nearby layers of rock and earth which allow for some flow of water to enter into the pit has caused great concern for the environment. Should the waters from the Berkely Pit seep into the surrounding waters, it could cause dangerous health hazards. Therefore, a diversion process was done to prevent the rising of the water at increased rates. It is a place full of toxic water.


The water in the pit is nowhere near drinkable. It is full of metals and toxic chemicals such as arsenic, sulfuric acid and more. On the surface level, where iron concentration is highest, the water appears reddish in color. Below that, the combination of iron and copper (as the concentration of copper is greatest at lower levels) makes the water appear lime-green in color.

The water in the Berkeley Pit is waste water and will most definitely kill you if ingested. It will totally destroy your esophagus and your entire digestive system. The vapors will cause your eyes to burn and if the water comes in contact with your skin, it will dry up the skin to the extreme. It has been reported that over three hundred snow geese died there after weather conditions prevented the birds from leaving the area. Thus, the need to prevent the toxic waters from rising to dangerous levels is necessary for the thirty-thousand plus residents who abide there. There is now a twenty-four hour nature watch which has been put into effect to prevent birds from landing on the water. In the year 2003 (notice how recent), a plan was put into effect to, hopefully, prevent the water in the pit from reaching levels which could be a detriment to the people of Montana.


Researchers have found that new species of bacteria and fungi have evolved and adapted to the toxic waste water of the Berkeley Pit. Certain of these 'new species' have been isolated and found to have an activity that works against cancer cells. Researchers have found that these isolated organisms, when tested on human tissue, have attacked cancer cells in the ovaries and tumors of the lungs. These organisms are a type of 'Penicillium'; and so far have not been found to exist anywhere else on our planet Earth. Certain bacteria have also been found to slow the spread of HIV (in lab tests that is). Should further studies, trials and experimentations continue regarding these miraculous organisms from the dark, toxic pit, much funding is needed and many, many more tests need to be performed before any such thing as 'a medicine' will come from the Berkely Pit.


As of now, the Berkeley Pit contains thirty-seven billion gallons of toxic water. It is one mile long by one half mile wide and is one-thousand-sevenhundred-eighty feet deep. It is now a site for tourist attraction (yes, people pay to see it). The fee is minimal.


Treatment of Berkekey Pit water


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    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

      lydia: What you spoke of in your comment, I have heard nothing about until now. I cannot tell what I do not know. However, I appreciate you sharing this information, and will look into it.

    • profile image

      lydia 7 years ago

      One time a flock of 100 and something geese flew down to get some water and every single one was poisoned. What "The Company" did was awful you should have included just how awful they are and how they are now doing the same thing in south America

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I wonder too, about all the other meds that are already here. Peace.

    • profile image

      hubpageswriter 7 years ago

      Great hub. I'm no Scientist too but thinking about this makes me worried as well and wondering. Hub up.:)

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for taking the time to read/comment. Miracles can be found in unexpected places, but this one makes me go, 'hmmmmm.'

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      This is a new one on me, I wonder what they will find once the dig deeper (no pun intended) and uncover the truth behind this find and the ability to contain it? Curious enough this Berkeley Pit. :O) Up rate and great detailed reporting.

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 8 years ago from Michigan

      Lady_E, I have mixed feelings as well. More than anything I just hope it never overflows. I'm not a scientist so thinking that something so miraculous could come from something so toxic is somewhat mind-blogging for me. And, no, this place is no where near me, totally different state. Thanks for visiting.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Interesting. I've got mixed feelings. I feel bad that it's got so much Toxic but happy that some people might benefit health wise for cancer. (weird - so bad, but so good).

      Anyway, I hope this place is not close to where you live.

      Best Wishes. :)

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 8 years ago from Michigan

      Pamela99, exactly what I was thinking. The possibility for cancer treatment is both amazing and scary, seeing that the 'treatment' and/or 'cure' may come from this horrible looking place.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      That's really interesting. No telling what all they will learn through this testing. Excellent hub.