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Dam Failure Could Bring Toxic Cocktail Rolling Through Jackson

JACKSON (CBS13) — A major problem could be threatening the city of Jackson if El Niño delivers heavy rain with more than just flooding.

The nearly 100-year-old private dam was part of an old mining site that was shut down in 1942. Old chemicals used to mine gold have been left behind.

"Sometimes they use mercury; sometimes they use cyanide to extract the rest of the gold they can't reach," said Tami Trearse with the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

She says if the dam were to fail, dirt and rock laced with mining chemicals could cover Jackson underneath 15 feet of mud—a toxic mudslide.

Trearse and her team are stacking up rock and adding pipes to divert water away from the old dam. This will help lighten the load and prevent it from failing.

"It's not imminent or anything, we're just taking precautions," she said.

The plan is to have the water diversion all done by November before El Niño could bring heavy rain.

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