Atlantic Richfield considers dumping contaminated soil into the Berkeley Pit
Officials with Atlantic Richfield and Butte-Silver Bow need to find an acceptable location to safely store the thousands of tons of contaminated soil set to be removed from the Silver Bow Creek Conservation Area.
Atlantic Richfield has been eyeing a site within the former Kelley mine yard. That site’s proximity to the historic site of the Dublin Gulch neighborhood has proven controversial in the community.
At a public meeting last month, citizens suggested another idea: dumping the waste into the iconic, toxic waters of Butte’s Berkeley Pit. Josh Bryson, Atlantic Richfield’s project manager for the site, says the company is exploring the possibility.
"It’s an opportunity and we think it’s most likely feasible."
Bryson says the company will have to determine how the waste might affect the chemistry of the pit, regulatory frameworks, and how to push the waste into the water safely, without risking anyone falling in. The idea has the support of Montana Resources, which owns the property.
Another site will still be required for waste that cannot go to the pit. But Bryson said Atlantic Richfield is committed to preserving the Dublin Gulch area.
Separately, EPA has ordered AR to investigate the source of seeps — likely contaminated with heavy metals — that appeared outside the Clark Tailings waste dump in 2019. The Clark Tailings dump was filled and covered with a recreation complex in the early 2000s.
Bryson said Atlantic Richfield’s investigation into the source of seepage coming from the Clark Tailings dump will wrap up this month.