MTPR

Nora Saks

Reporter

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

In addition to covering mostly Superfund news, she's the host and producer of Richest Hill, a podcast about the past, present and future of one of America's most notorious Superfund sites.

Learn more at www.buttepodcast.org

We're also very social: @buttepodcast on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stay in touch: 978-996-5766 // nrv.saks@gmail.com

Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment. Butte, MT. Oct. 3, 2018.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Copper mining company Montana Resources is now one step away from receiving approval from state regulators to expand its permanent mine tailings storage facility in Butte.

Since 1986, Montana Resources (MR) has been sending the slurry of waste from its open pit copper and molybdenum mine in Butte up to the Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment, which sits uphill and northeast of the Berkeley Pit.

From Evel Knievel to a 'Great Flood' and on to the dawning of the Superfund era, Episode 5 looks at the origins of the government program designed to force whoever made the mess to clean it up.

The Berkeley Pit in Butte
Mike Albans

Today is the day when a milestone in Butte’s Superfund cleanup was supposed to have been reached: a final Superfund deal for the Butte Hill. Now the parties negotiating that agreement say they need a little more time. 

On his last day on the job, former EPA Regional boss Doug Benevento told the parties hashing out the deal that they had until August 12 to get it done.

AR's operations manager, Ron Halsey, stands in front of the intake pipe that siphons water originating indirectly from the Berkeley Pit into this new water polishing plant. August 6, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

37 years ago, Atlantic Richfield abandoned an open pit copper mine in Butte and allowed it to flood with toxic mine water. Now, the company estimates they’re one month away from proving they’re in control of the Berkeley Pit. MTPR's Nora Saks got a sneak peek of their new water treatment facility and has more.

Nora Saks

Wednesday night, Anacondans got a rare chance to speak directly about their experience with Superfund to the national office that investigates the Environmental Protection Agency. And most of what they had to say wasn’t complimentary.

Anaconda residents have attended countless Superfund meetings over the last 36 years. But unlike the others, this one wasn’t hosted by EPA.

EPA Region 8's Betsy Smidinger and Greg Sopkin met with community stakeholders at Archives on Tuesday,  June 11, 2019.
Nora Saks

The national office that audits the EPA is in Anaconda this week holding a listening session about the Superfund cleanup there.

Superfund is a priority for the EPA, according to the new chief of EPA Region 8. Montana Public Radio's Nora Saks sat down with him during his first visit to Butte last month to find out more about his priorities.

EPA Region 8 Administrator Greg Sopkin chats with Butte residents Evan Barrett and Mick Ringsak after a community stakeholder meeting at the Butte-Silver Bow Archives on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

The national office that investigates the EPA wants to hear what people in Anaconda think about the Superfund cleanup there.

The independent Office of the Inspector General (OIG) looks for fraud, waste and abuse in the Environmental Protection Agency. It also evaluates EPA’s programs, like Superfund, and makes recommendations on how they could be improved.

Nora Saks

The company that operates the active copper mine in Butte, Montana Resources, is seeking permission to expand its tailings dam, so it can keep mining. But Atlantic Richfield, which shares responsibility for the Berkeley Pit, says one day the dam could collapse, fill the pit and destroy Butte if more isn’t done. Nora Saks sat down with the Montana Standard’s environmental reporter, Susan Dunlap, to find out more.

Cheryl Eagle (L) with Indian People's Action, and Geoff Gallus (R) with the Butte Area Rising Coalition, comfort Miki Chessmore (M), who's house was spray painted with racial slurs in early June. June 15, 2019.
Nora Saks

Over the weekend, the Butte community rallied in response to an incident in early June where a resident’s home was vandalized with racial slurs targeting Native Americans.

Eric Hassler (L) and Jon Sesso (R) are Butte-Silver Bow's Superfund operations manager and coordinator, pictured here at Catch Basin 8. May 28, 2019.
Nora Saks

The deadline for comments on EPA’s proposed changes to Butte’s Superfund cleanup is fast approaching. MTPR's Nora Saks went in the field with two of Butte-Silver Bow’s Superfund staff to find out more about the county’s take on the plan, their role, and what stormwater’s got to do with it.

Pages