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Anaconda Residents Can Reconsider $1,000 Offer Not To Sue Mining Company

Anaconda copper smelter.
Keith Ewing (CC-BY-NC-2)
A smelter in Anaconda, Montana.

Montana residents who signed contracts agreeing to accept $1,000 in exchange for not suing the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) over future mine waste cleanup in Opportunity will have the chance to reconsider.

A meeting was held last night in Anaconda to clarify the terms of the contracts for residents.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Chief Executive Bill Everett says that about 250 Anaconda residents received the contracts and about 100 signed them without understanding the rights they were giving up.

Everett says emotions were high at the meeting.

“It definitely hit people the wrong way. People felt perhaps that they were misled. And we saw a side of some residents that I’d never seen before," he says.

He also said ARCO did not inform the county about the contracts in advance.

“Usually I’m made aware of these situations prior to residents receiving it. We had no knowledge," he says.

The agreement not to sue is binding for any future owners of the property.

Everett says ARCO will void the agreements for anyone who wants to withdraw, and he has requested that ARCO discuss any future actions with the county.

ARCO is seeking access for a second cleanup in the Superfund site. An initial cleanup addressed only arsenic, but EPA officials say elevated lead levels were found later.

EPA Superfund project manager Charlie Coleman says soil around about 1,000 homes needs a second cleanup.

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