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Public Meeting Thursday On Columbia Falls Aluminum Cleanup, Superfund Designation

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

An open house on the process of cleaning up the shutdown Columbia Falls Aluminum plant happens Thursday evening.

The Columba Falls Aluminum Company, or CFAC, permanently closed this spring after the plant hadn’t fully operated since 2009. CFAC is in talks with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about how to begin cleanup.
One of the biggest questions is whether  to give the site Superfund designation.

That’s something that CFAC doesn’t want to happen, says company spokesperson Haley Beaudry. He says that’s because of the history of Superfund sites in Montana.

“Not one single site has ever come off that list. They have always been a Superfund site.”

Haley says for the community that lost a major employer when the plant shut down, a Superfund site could make Columbia Falls an unattractive place for future businesses, because of the stigma associated with the listing.

The issue is split in the Columbia Falls community with supporters on each side.

Governor Steve Bullock and U.S. Senator Jon Tester are among those supporting the Superfund site listing.

Representative Ryan Zinke has spoken of his opposition.

The open house with information about the cleanup of CFAC will be from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Thursday in the Columbia Falls High School Cafeteria There are no presentations planned, but booths will be set up for visitor information about all sides of the issue.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.
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