Water from Berkeley Pit could provide clean hydrogen to power Los Angeles

A company has proposed building a plant at the Port of Montana to convert water from the Berkeley Pit in Butte into hydrogen, then transport it down to a storage plant via a pipeline. (Clark Fork Watershed Education Program photo)

(KPAX) BUTTE — Butte is continuing talks with Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems for a potential project that would convert the toxic water from the Berkeley Pit into hydrogen to power the city of Los Angeles.

“They’re calling it probably the green Colstrip, right here in Butte,” said Butte Chief Executive Dave Palmer.

While still in the beginning phases, the company proposes building a plant at the Port of Montana to convert the pit water into hydrogen, then transport it down to a storage plant via a pipeline.

“Green energy has a lot of potential for Butte where, if this were to move forward, there’s going to be a lot of companies that spin off a result of it,” said Butte Local Development Corporation Director Joe Willauer.

The industrial park just southwest of Butte is getting attention from many other industries.

“The infrastructure’s there, the land’s there, it really has the ability to leverage some bigger deals and we’ve seen a lot of interest in it,” said Willauer.

You can’t escape the irony that the most toxic body of water in America could potentially become an environmentally friendly source of power.

“It’s cool, yeah, I think that’s one of the potentials that’s really exciting about this is the ability, yes, to use the outflow of the Berkeley Pit and turn it into green energy,” said Willauer.