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

L to R, Butte Superfund Activist Fritz Dailey, US Senator Steve Daines and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at the confluence of Blacktail and Silver Bow Creeks in Butte, September 7, 2018.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

With no deal yet signed to avert another partial government shutdown, progress on Montana’s Superfund cleanup sites is again in jeopardy. MTPR's Nora Saks spoke with a former senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency to understand what kind of impacts another shutdown could have in Montana.

Butte Montana is famous. It was at one time the biggest city between Chicago and San Francisco. It’s in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and sits at the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, which flows all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Butte boomed and thrived for almost a century because of one thing: copper.

Butte’s massive copper deposit was key to America’s success. The “Richest Hill on Earth” literally electrified the nation, and made the brass in bullets that won World Wars I and II. But in the 1980s, the last of the big mines shut down. Now, most of the riches are gone, and Butte is struggling.

Montana has a new Superfund liaison. The partial government shutdown delayed the Environmental Protection Agency from naming a permanent replacement for the acting liaison, but now that it’s over, Jacqui Barker is visiting communities around the state.

Butte residents gathered at a Superfund health study meeting to discuss a range of health concerns with agency officials and health department staff. October 30, 2018.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

A new analysis by the state health department says that the rate of new cancer diagnoses in Silver Bow County is about the same as the rest of Montana.

But at a council of commissioners meeting Wednesday night in Butte, state cancer epidemiologist Heather Zimmerman said that's not the case for cancer mortalities.

Giant piles of slag sit on along Highway 1 on the way into Anaconda, MT, July 11, 2018. Slag is a byproduct of copper smelting.
Nora Saks

A federal judge has lifted a gag order on the Anaconda Superfund cleanup. That means that after more than a decade of secrecy, Anaconda residents will soon be able to learn some details about the Superfund cleanup deal in the works for the Smelter City.

The Washoe Smelter Stack in Anaconda.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Anaconda residents are one step closer to finding out more details about the final Superfund cleanup deal and plan that’s been under wraps for the last four months.

Silver Bow Creek in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks / MTPR

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to waive state water quality standards for a portion of Butte’s Superfund cleanup.

If the final Superfund cleanup deal currently being negotiated in Butte goes through, extensive work is planned to clean up and protect the major creek corridors in town.

Mark Mariano does daily waterfowl observations rounds at the Berkeley Pit during migration season. October 2018.
Nora Saks / MTPR

With the fall bird migration now in full swing, the companies in charge of Butte’s Berkeley Pit are using their new and improved scientific bird-hazing program to keep birds away. This week, their program got put to the test.

Two years ago this November, Butte made national headlines when several thousand late-migrating snow geese landed on the Berkeley Pit, exhausted and died. The huge numbers overwhelmed the companies jointly in charge of managing the former open pit copper mine and their usual methods of hazing birds off the massive toxic lake it now contains. 

Voters in Belgrade, MT, Nov. 6 2018.
Nora Saks

MTPR reporters spent today talking to voters across western Montana. Nora Saks stopped by the Belgrade Events Center this afternoon where high school had just let out. Voting booths were set up in front of a trophy case and voters who had just cast their ballots shared what issues were on their mind.

Carter Anderson was helping transport voters to and from the Butte Civic Center in the golf cart, Nov. 6, 2018.
Nora Saks

We've had reporters talking to voters across much of Western Montana today including these who Nora Saks spoke to in Butte this morning.

Nora Saks: Heading towards the civic center in Butte, it's snowy, there are so many people here. The roads are really greasy but there's lots of people just flowing in. One of the major voting locations in Butte. I'm going to try to catch up with some people.

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