Montana Public Radio

Butte Montana

Retired hydrogeologist Joe Griffin stands next to a groundwater sampling well in Butte's Upper Silver Bow Creek corridor. January 24, 2018.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency released the changes they want to make to the 2006 legal Record of Decision (ROD) which governs the Superfund cleanup of the Butte Hill and Upper Silver Bow Creek corridor.

David McCumber, editor of the Montana Standard, speaks at a rally calling for a complete clean-up of Silver Bow Creek, Nov. 14, 2017.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A proposal would set aside some money from a Superfund cleanup settlement to build a man-made creek through the center of Butte.

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

Updated and expanded, April 11, 5:45 p.m.

I’m down in the valley at the bottom of the Butte Hill with Nikia Greene, looking at two skinny headwater streams flowing towards Silver Bow Creek and the Clark Fork River downstream.

"This is Blacktail Creek. We’re just above where the confluence of Blacktail Creek and Upper Silver Bow Creek, at the Visitor’s Center. You can see a wetland in the background," Greene says.

In August 1917, Frank Little was the victim of a grisly murder in Butte. Little was a labor organizer who came to Butte to unify and radicalize Butte’s miners in their fight against the Anaconda Mining Company for higher wages and safer working conditions. Most historians believe that the Anaconda Company was behind Little’s killing, but no one knows for sure. A note pinned to his underwear threatened, "Others take notice: first and last warning," along with the numbers 3-7-77, the calling card of frontier vigilantes.

The Montana Superfund liaison that the Environmental Protection Agency hired in February has quit. Her departure comes during a critical decision making period for both the Butte and Anaconda Superfund sites.

EPA Liaison Jacqui Barker quit as the agency’s community involvement coordinator for most of Montana’s Superfund sites after just two months on the job, citing personal reasons.

Uptown Butte, MT.
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

After more than 30 years on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List, the federal agency has given Butte a date for finalization of a legally binding cleanup deal for the Butte Hill and the Upper Silver Bow Creek corridor.

All of Montana knows that Butte is a big deal. Now readers of 'The New Yorker' know too.

"'Richest Hill,' a new podcast from Montana Public Radio, made me care intensely about the former copper-mining boomtown of Butte, Montana—and urgently want to understand it better. Reported and written by Nora Saks and edited and produced by Nick Mott and Eric Whitney, “Richest Hill” has a mood of straightforward friendliness, but it’s also full of surprises ... It’s no small feat to tell an enjoyable story about a Superfund site, but, so far, 'Richest Hill' pulls it off."

State officials say a proposed expansion to Montana Resources’ tailings impoundment in Butte next to its active copper mine there won’t impact groundwater.

Northey Tretheway, with the Restore Our Creek Coalition, gives outgoing EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento a plaque honoring his work in Butte on March 21, 2019.
Nora Sacks / Montana Public Radio

In Butte Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency set a date for an important milestone in the Mining City’s Superfund cleanup.

Next Friday, the agency says it will give federal court 135 days notice of filing a final consent decree laying out legally binding cleanup plans.

Who was Frank Little? And what could his grisly murder more than a century ago possibly have to do with Butte’s Superfund cleanup? Find out on Episode 3, coming soon.
(PD)

Hey there loyal Richest Hill listeners, Nora Saks here. I wanted to let you know that we’re hard at work on Episode 3.

Who was Frank Little? And what could his grisly murder more than a century ago possibly have to do with Butte’s Superfund cleanup? That’s one of the questions we’ll be asking in Episode 3, which is coming at you the first week of April. Stay with us for more about Butte's past, present and future!

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