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EPA To Announce Final Butte Cleanup Deal

A mining headframe in Uptown Butte, Montana with the city in view in the background.
Mike Albans
Montana Public Radio
Uptown Butte, MT.

This season on Richest Hill you’ve been hearing all about what mining meant for Butte, the toxic legacy it left behind, and about sprawling efforts to clean it up that have spanned more than 30 years.

And this week, something big is gonna happen.

On Thursday morning, the EPA is expected to announce its final cleanup deal for Butte. It’s a huge agreement, more than a decade in the making. And it’ll decide what happens in Butte once and for all.

Now, we’ll be able to start answering some major questions about the fate of the epicenter of the largest complex of Superfund sites in the country. Like, what’s the rest of Butte’s cleanup actually going to look like? And what does it mean for the people who have to live with it?

The fate of the infamous Berkeley Pit is already sealed. But this deal — called a consent decree — will dictate the remainder of the cleanup in the Butte. And it’ll have a hefty price tag.

It’s a pretty wild time to be a Superfund site. Earlier this week, President Trump called for massive cuts to EPA’s funding and the Superfund program. But — out of the more than 1,300 Superfund sites from coast to coast — his administration also targeted Butte for “immediate and intense” attention.

This "significant announcement" will be made Thursday, Feb 13 at 11 a.m. at the Finlen Hotel in Butte.

Stay tuned to Richest Hill to learn more about how we got here and what’s coming next.

Nora Saks is a reporter and producer based in Butte, MT.
Nick Mott is a reporter and podcast producer based in Livingston, Montana.
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