Montana DEQ Preparing For Clark Fork Cleanup Project Near Deer Lodge

Aug 3, 2018

Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality is preparing to haul 20,000 semi-truck loads of contaminated soil from the banks of the Clark Fork River in and around Deer Lodge.

"We’re happy to get this river so it can behave naturally, because it’s been fairly limited for over 100 years, and we’d like to see it behave more like a natural stream" said DEQ Construction Manager Joel Chavez at public meeting in Deer Lodge last night.

A portion of the area north and west of Deer Lodge where Montana's DEQ plans to start work this fall
Credit Montana DEQ

It’s part of ongoing efforts to get mine waste generated in Butte more than a century ago out of the Clark Fork corridor. It’s been going on for years and has included removal of the Milltown dam at Missoula. Work is set to begin this fall and will last 24 to 27 months, Chavez says.

"We would like the river closed to boat traffic. We don’t want hazards of people walking into the active construction area, where there’ll be excavation."

DEQ will go before the Montana Wildlife Commission August 9 to ask for permission to close the river. Chavez says plans are to use fill material from nearby sites to rebuild streambanks, and to re-vegetate the banks. He says it will cost between $10 million and $20 million, to be paid out of funds from a settlement with Atlantic Richfield Company. Contaminated soil will be added to existing remediated piles at Warm Springs.