Montana Public Radio

Butte Montana

This culvert and forebay pictured on May 28, 2019 are part of Butte's stormwater capture and treatment system, which will be expanded and completed in the  Superfund cleanup plan.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

A final deal signed by a federal judge this week outlining cleanup of century old mining waste in Butte means there’s going to be a flurry of work happening in the center of town. 

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon on Wednesday gave his final stamp of approval to an overarching Superfund cleanup deal for the Butte Hill and its headwater streams below.

Silver Bow Creek in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Butte’s $150 million cleanup deal is at last carved in legal stone after more than a decade of negotiations, and more than three decades on the Superfund National Priorities List.

On Wednesday, a federal district judge gave his final stamp of approval to an overarching Superfund settlement for the Butte Hill and its headwaters streams below.

Locations of surface water remedy components for the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit.
Land Design Inc. - BPSOU Record of Decision

Butte’s pending $150 million Superfund cleanup deal is now one step away from being legally set in stone.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday filed a motion to enter the Superfund deal, or consent decree, with the Federal District Court of Montana, recommending the court approve it.

Nora Saks, the reporter and host of Montana Public Radio's Richest Hill podcast has been awarded the 2019 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.

Richest Hill dives deep into the history of Butte, MT to tell the colorful and complicated story of how the city became one of America's most notorious Superfund sites. Nora and producer Nick Mott have released 8 episodes in the 10 part series.

Recently, we let the cat out of the bag and told you that Butte’s Superfund parties reached a very big deal; one that will clean up the Mining City forever. That sounds like good news, and I hope it is. But as someone who lives right in the heart of a Superfund megasite, lately I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance.

During his reign, President Trump has radically transformed the Environmental Protection Agency. I haven’t known how to square the EPA's cheerleading on Superfund with the Trump Administration’s overall track record on the environment, and whether all the action we’re seeing in Butte, Montana is the Superfund exception, or the rule.

This culvert and forebay pictured on May 28, 2019 are part of Butte's stormwater capture and treatment system, which will be expanded and completed in the  Superfund cleanup plan.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Butte’s proposed $150 million Superfund deal was filed with a federal district court, according to Monday’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency. It's a big leap forward for the mine waste cleanup in the works for the Mining City. 

Mark Mariano, bird protection specialist for the Berkeley Pit, holds disinfectant wipes in his bird shack overlooking the pit.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

In Butte, the epicenter of one of the most toxic industrial sites in the country, essential work during the COVID-19 outbreak can mean protecting humans, and the environment, from historic pollution. Nora Saks with Montana Public Radio’s Richest Hill podcast has this look at Superfund during the pandemic.

After reporting on Superfund for several years, it’s obvious to me that everyone here wants the best possible cleanup for their town. And, there are very different definitions of what that means.

A lot of folks in Butte are fired up about bringing a stretch of the long-dead Silver Bow Creek back to life. And on the surface, I get it. Superfund is huge and complicated, full of thousands of pages of technical documents, and abstract legal requirements like water quality standards. Whereas a beautiful free flowing stream? That’s something tangible, easy to get jazzed up about.

iStock

The novel coronavirus outbreak made for a Montana St. Patrick’s Day like few others in state history. Several counties this week instituted aggressive steps to reduce large gatherings in the name of public health.

Montanans adjusted their expectations this year and dialed it back a notch.

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The St. Patrick's Day parade in Butte has been canceled because of concerns about the new coronavirus, based on the advice of the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department. However, Montana's high school basketball tournaments will still be held this weekend as scheduled.

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