Montana Public Radio

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

The soil and groundwater at the Montana Pole and Treating Site south and west of Butte are contaminated with pentachlorophenols and dioxins from more than 40 years of wood treatment at the abandoned facility. February 11, 2020.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio


State environmental regulators say a former wood treatment plant in Butte needs a new cleanup plan to make the toxic site safer for both people and groundwater.

Butte Superfund Coordinator Jon Sesso speaks during the event unveiling EPA's final cleanup plan for Butte, Feb. 13, 2020.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday unveiled a final cleanup deal for Butte, marking a crucial turning point in the decades-long Superfund saga of Montana’s Mining City.

More than a century of copper mining in Butte helped electrify America and win both world wars. But, it also left behind a huge toxic mess that earned the city a Superfund site designation in the 1980s.

Uptown Butte, MT.
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

This season on Richest Hill you’ve been hearing all about what mining meant for Butte, the toxic legacy it left behind, and about sprawling efforts to clean it up that have spanned more than 30 years.

And this week, something big is gonna happen.

EPA Region 8 toxicologist Charlie Partridge (R) told Butte's Board of Health during a Feb. 5, 2020 meeting that the federal agency does not think the results of a study on metals in baby poop show a public health emergency in Butte.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

There’s an ongoing debate in Butte about public health and exposure to heavy metals in the environment from historic and current mining operations. The most recent controversy flared up this week between scientists and the Environmental Protection Agency, over the contents of dirty diapers.

Nora Saks

A fire broke out early Thursday morning in Uptown Butte, gutting a historic building and ravaging several businesses. 

Project Manager Elizabeth Erickson with Water and Environmental Technologies presents the results of their Silver Bow Creek restoration study in Butte, Jan. 14, 2020.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

A new study says it’s possible to rebuild a creek — destroyed by decades of mining — that once flowed through Butte. But it won’t be easy and it won’t come cheap.

After more than 30 years in limbo without a final cleanup agreement, the ink is drying on Butte’s big Superfund deal as we speak. What it means and why it matters has everything to do with what played out when Superfund came to Montana’s Mining City. So today we’re asking: back in those early days of Superfund, who were the players, and what was the game?

This is episode 06: Our Most Cherished Beliefs.

This section of Silver Bow Creek that runs through Slag Canyon in Butte will be rerouted in EPA's "proposed plan" for changes to the 2006 Record of Decision.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

A copper mining company and Butte-Silver Bow county agreed this week to a plan to pump more cold, clean water into local creeks. While the company and county call the deal a win-win, some are concerned about the downstream impacts.

ATSDR Medical officer Capt. Arthur Wendel (L) and health assessor David Dorian explain the nuances of the agency's exposure investigation at a public meeting at Anaconda High School. Oct 30, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Federal investigators that study public health risks at Superfund sites had good news for Anacondans this week. At a meeting on Wednesday, they reported that the amount of lead and arsenic in residents' bodies are about the same as the rest of the country.

Uptown Butte, MT.
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

Federal officials Thursday revealed more specifics about the timeline and process surrounding the final deal for Butte’s Superfund cleanup, although some details are still murky.

In mid-October, the parties in charge of the cleanup announced they had reached agreement on a final, legally binding deal, marking a turning point in the Mining City’s three-decades-long Superfund saga.

Pages