EPA considers using robots in abandoned mines | KOB 4
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EPA considers using robots in abandoned mines

Meg Hilling
February 01, 2018 05:59 PM

FARMINGTON, N.M.  -- In an effort to explore and secure abandoned mines throughout the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is exploring the possibility of sending robots into abandon mines.

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"We are very intrigued by that idea we can send robots into the underground mine workings, not worry about a lot of that safety issues that one might have sending people into the mines," said Rebecca Thomas, an official at the EPA. "And they can be instrumented with a variety of different tools to take maps of the underground workings, photographs."

By doing this, EPA hopes to clean up some of the mines and prevent mine blowouts like the Gold King Mine spill. According to EPA officials, it is going to be a while before these robots head down below.

"I think it'll take many months and maybe even years to really fully develop this technology. In our early conversations with the Colorado School of Mines, we've been talking about the difficult conditions in these mines," Thomas said. "They are wet environments. Oftentimes the water is very acidic, having a very low pH. So the robots have to be constructed to withstand that kind of an environment."

The EPA and Colorado School of Mines are not the only ones exploring this type of mine technology. Numerous organizations and colleges throughout the country are carrying out similar research.

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Meg Hilling

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