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Parties Reach Conceptual Agreement On Anaconda's Superfund Cleanup

The Washoe Smelter Stack in Anaconda, MT.
Nora Saks
The Washoe Smelter Stack in Anaconda.

Over the weekend, the parties involved in Anaconda’s Superfund cleanup reached an “agreement in principle,” meeting the deadline set by the Environmental Protection Agency just in the nick of time. In April, an EPA regional administrator set a new deadline for a cleanup agreement of July 31.

That strategy worked. On Saturday night, the parties successfully reached a conceptual cleanup agreement for the Anaconda Smelter Superfund site.

“Basically we were all forced into a room together and [they] said 'don’t come out until you reach an agreement,'” says Bill Everett, the Chief Executive Officer for Anaconda-Deer Lodge County.

Everett says everyone involved made concessions, but he feels good about what’s in the agreement, and is relieved that EPA won’t have to issue its own unilateral cleanup order.

“A unilateral order probably would have been negative for all parties involved, especially Anaconda-Deer Lodge County," Everett says. "There’s only so many things these unilateral orders could have helped the community with and there were some really scary features that I wanted to avoid and I’m very grateful we were able to avoid.”

The agreement is between the EPA, the state of Montana, Atlantic Richfield Company, and Anaconda-Deer Lodge County.

On Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., EPA is hosting a public meeting at the Anaconda High School Little Theater to discuss what this means for the community, and next steps.

Everett said the parties will be limited in what details they can reveal at the meeting, because there is currently a confidentiality order covering Anaconda’s Superfund cleanup negotiations.

Nora Saks is a reporter and producer based in Butte, MT.
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