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DOGM gives update on MK tunnels reclamation project

Work will be done to the MK Tunnels to seal them off from the public for safety reasons.
Lucy Malin speaks about the MK tunnel project in public lands meeting.

Staff writer

Luci Malin of the Utah State Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining Abandoned Mine and Reclamation department gave the Emery County Public Lands Council an update concerning the MK Tunnels reclamation project. She said due to the funding coming from the US Army Corps of Engineers for this project, the deadline for completion has been set at Dec. 31.

"There have been several delays with this project because it is included in the entire San Rafael project. MK Tunnels is now a separate project to allow us to meet the reclamation deadline. The Bureau of Land Management has requested additional testing on some of the other mining areas in the San Rafael, but everything is done for the MK Tunnels and the plans are to have the reclamation project completed by the end of the year," said Malin.

Tony Gallegos, project manager, explained the separation of the San Rafael project and the MK Tunnel project into two separate projects. "In the San Rafael project, 173 mines openings have been proposed to be closed at a cost of $35,000. For the MK Tunnels, there are six openings which require closure at a cost of $164,000. The MK Tunnels project will begin in November and be complete by the end of December," he said.

Gallegos explained the DOGM project will leave the opening known as the powder magazine for the MK Tunnels open for its historical value. It is a safe portal and is not in fractured, unsafe rock. At some of the other horizontal openings, manganol steel gates will be installed and may be recessed into the opening. The larger horizontal openings will be filled with block walls that will be covered with plaster using native soils to match the landscape colors.

Vernell Rowley voiced concerns over the historical value and items remaining in the shaft openings. Gallegos stressed that the solid walls will only be inserted over the openings with none of those things. The openings with something of interest to see will have the steel gates inserted so visitors can view the historical items.

Mark H Williams informed the council that one of the openings, number 4191118H01, is located in solid rock, has no fractures and is 305 feet into the ground. He said it is his opinion that particular opening should be left alone as it poses no safety hazard.

Ray Petersen, public lands director, said many of the bigger tunnels are fractured badly and are beginning to cave in and pose a potential danger to the public.

As for the openings that are vertical into the ground, these will be backfilled with material from waste piles in the area and capped with concrete pads. "DOGM has engineered safety first, then considered the cultural and historic value, with consideration to sensitive species in the area," said Gallegos. He stated the concrete pads will have drainage pipes to allow for run off with no further erosion.

Petersen informed the council the Emery County Commissioners have accepted this project as proposed. The public lands council discussed and decided to write a letter of request to leave shaft 4191118H01 as it is for its historical value. Gallegos informed the council of $10,000 in the project money to have an interpretive kiosk constructed to inform visitors of the historic value of the area.

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