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Montana News

EPA Open House To Address 'Superfund' Status For Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
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Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Anyone living near the closed Columbia Falls Aluminum Company smelter has a chance Wednesday night to help the Environmental Protection Agency determine whether the plant belongs on the list of sites eligible for "Superfund" cleanup funds. The EPA is holding an open house starting at 7:00 Wednesday at the Columbia Falls City Hall. Cynthia Peterson with the EPA says government agencies and the plant’s owners are just beginning to discuss how the plant can be de-contaminated and converted to some other use.

"We are negotiating to come to a legally binding agreement on moving forward with an investigation about the site, to understand the nature and extent of contamination, and information that folks have related to that investigation would be helpful to us."

The plant opened in the mid-1950s and produced aluminum for a half-century until falling metal prices and rising electricity rates made it too expensive to operate. The site is believed to be contaminated with various metals, as well as cyanide and fluoride.

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