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Partial Superfund Deal For Anaconda Smelter Site Heads To Federal Court

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

The parties in charge of the sprawling 300 square mile Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site Friday lodged a partial legally-binding cleanup deal in federal district court. The public will soon get to weigh-in on the deal. 

The partial deal, or consent decree, is between the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state, and Atlantic Richfield Company.

It provides a legal and technical roadmap for addressing three major components of Anaconda’s complex Superfund cleanup: remediating surface water, dealing with the old piles of slag, and operating and maintaining the Old Works Golf Course, which was built on top of smelter waste. AR will foot the bill for the work.

"What we did is a mini consent decree. We broke it down into multiple parts. The big picture was being tough to swallow, so we thought let’s chip away one at a time," Chief Executive Officer Bill Everett, who represents Anaconda-Deer Lodge County in the Superfund negotiations, says.

Once the partial consent decree is published in the federal register, the public will get 30 days to formally comment on the deal. It will then need final approval from the federal judge. 

The EPA says its goal is to have a full, or sitewide, consent decree for the Anaconda Smelter Site by the end of the year.

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