Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company Closing Permanently

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced Tuesday it’s permanently closing its doors. The plant stopped production in 2009 during the height of the recession. The company was once a major employer in the Flathead Valley.

A skeleton crew has maintained Columbia Falls Aluminum Company for over 5 years as officials waited for the right time to reopen.

Word came this week that time will never come.

Company spokesman Haley Beaudry says several factors sealed the plant's fate including increased global competition and continued depressed aluminum prices.

"It's just like parking your car and coming back in two or three years. You've got things to do to get your car running again. Well, that's multiplied by thousands of times in a plant," Beaudry said.

An Environmental Protection Agency study found cyanide, arsenic, lead and fluoride in groundwater in and around the plant.

EPA says it could qualify as a Superfund site.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company’s Haley Beaudry disagrees, saying it would only hamper cleanup and stigmatize future re-development efforts.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
Related Content