The clock is ticking down for parties to reach a final cleanup agreement for Anaconda’s Superfund site.
Declared a Superfund site in 1983, cleanup has been ongoing at the Anaconda Smelter area, but there’s been no final cleanup agreement, or consent decree, for the last 35 years.
Last year, Anaconda was placed on a national “emphasis list” by the Environmental Protection Agency, and targeted for focused attention.
In April, EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento set a new deadline for the parties responsible for that Superfund cleanup to reach a final agreement: July 31.
That’s next week, which means those parties, which include EPA, the state of Montana, Atlantic Richfield Company, and Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, are currently deep in confidential negotiations.
“We are making some progress. I’m optimistic that we would be able to reach agreement," Benevento says. "But it’s important to note that irrespective of whether we reach agreement or not, there is one element will not change. The level of cleanup that the people of Anaconda deserve will not change whether it’s a consent decree or unilateral order.”
If a cleanup agreement is not reached by the July 31 deadline, Benevento said EPA will withdraw from any discussions and make plans to issue a unilateral cleanup order in the coming weeks.