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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

$40 million in federal funds will help complete East Helena Superfund project, officials say

Environmental regulators saida new $40 million boost of federal dollars is enough to get a Superfund cleanup project in East Helena across the finish line. The funds come from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January announced plans for additional clean up of lead pollution in residential yards in East Helena.

The site’s EPA project manager, Bridgit Williams, said they had some money in the bank at the time to get the yard cleanup started.

“But, what this $40 million allows us to do is complete the job,” Williams told MTPR in a phone interview. “We have all the money we need, we can get started and we’re going to get the job done.”

A Superfund investigation into the East Helena site began back in the early 80s, when lead smelter ARASCO was still operating in the community. The smelter left the area with millions of tons of contaminated soil and groundwater, much of which has since been removed.

Williams said the new effort to remove lead from yards in the area will likely get going next year. She said the EPA will begin seeking contractors for the cleanup work in March.

The EPA will hold an informational public meeting on the cleanup project at East Helena City Hall on March 11 at 9 a.m.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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