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Butte Superfund Agreement Undergoing Further Review

Uptown Butte, MT.
Mike Albans
Montana Public Radio
Uptown Butte, MT.

Federal officials Thursday revealed more specifics about the timeline and process surrounding the final deal for Butte’s Superfund cleanup, although some details are still murky.

In mid-October, the parties in charge of the cleanup announced they had reached agreement on a final, legally binding deal, marking a turning point in the Mining City’s three-decades-long Superfund saga.

The cleanup deal still has to be reviewed and signed by senior officials at the state of Montana, Atlantic Richfield Company, the U.S. Department of Justice and EPA.

In a statement released Thursday, EPA said, “We estimate that process will take from four to five weeks, but it could be shorter or longer.”

Once those parties have signed off on the deal, the entire package will be made available to the public, and Butte’s Council of Commissioners, who have to vote on whether or not to sign it.

According to EPA, Butte-Silver Bow County plans to hold public education meetings to answer questions about the proposal, and will likely accept informal public comment as part of their deliberation process. The county will release more details soon.

If the consent decree is approved by all of the Superfund parties, it will then be lodged with a federal court and eventually released for a formal 30-day public comment period.

If the consent decree is not entered, EPA has legal authority to issue a unilateral order and force Atlantic Richfield and Butte-Silver Bow to perform the final cleanup work.

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