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DEQ says soil in a Deer Lodge park is not a short-term health risk

Deposits of copper colored mine waste along the upper Clark Fork River.
Nick Mott
Montana Public Radio
Deposits of copper colored mine waste along the upper Clark Fork River.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says possible heavy metals contamination at a public park in Deer Lodge does not pose a short-term risk to human health.

Arrowstone Park is contaminated with toxic heavy metals from mining waste. A massive flood in 1908 dispersed the waste over a large area of the upper Clark Fork river floodplain. The park was initially cleaned in the 1990s.Heavy metals have been rising to the surface in recent years creating patches of barren soil called slickens.

DEQ says data on soil in the park shows no immediate health hazards, although ingestion of soil could lead to long-term health risks.

The department placed warning signs at the park last month, and will place a temporary soil cover over slickens in the coming weeks. A long-term cleanup plan is in the design phase, and scheduled to begin next fall.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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