Helicopter drops dust binding material to improve Lead’s air quality

Helicopters are used to cut down dust from Lead's Open Cut
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 8:17 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Often we think of helicopters stirring up dust. But in Lead Wednesday, a helicopter dropped 8,000 gallons of dust-binding material to keep the debris down.

“Applying a capping agent, from dust bind to the dust..to the material that’s inside of the open cut to control dust coming out and minimize it,” said Patrick Weber, head of the South Dakota Services division for Fermilab.

Dust from the Open Cut has caused air quality issues in Lead. Since 2021, about 800,000 tons of rock were excavated from the Sanford Underground Lab as three large caverns were created a mile underground. There Sanford conducts Neutrino and other experiments

Wednesday, crews were focused on cutting down the dust created from that excavation.

“They’ve got a lot of water being put onto the dust pile. They put the same material on the top where they could reach, and now this was an attempt to get to the very bottom of the pile, which is about 650 feet down into the open cut,” said Lead Mayor Ron Everett.

Weber says Fermilab has been putting this material in the Open Cut for more than a year in an effort to maintain a safe and clean environment.