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EPA Begins Investigation Into Stone Container Contamination

Smurfit-Stone Container mill outside Frenchtown, Montana.
Djembayz (CC-BY-SA-3)

The Environmental Protection Agency begins a comprehensive investigation on Monday into the extent of contamination at a former Frenchtown paper-mill.

The plant opened in the 1950’s and was last operated by Smurfit-Stone Container. It closed in 2010 and a year later was purchased by M2 Green Redevelopment. Limited sampling revealed the presence of several industrial contaminants at the 3,200 acre site, including dioxin, lead and arsenic.

Peter Nielsen is Missoula County’s Environmental Health Supervisor. Neilson says local officials will pay close attention to the assessment process and may ask for some additional work.

"And we may get some of what we ask for and we may not, but at least things are now beginning. It’s been a long road to get here and we’re gratified that it is starting now.”

The site’s owners will reimburse $600,000 to the EPA for work already completed. That money will help fund the new testing that’s expected to wrap up by Christmas. 

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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