MTPR

Butte Montana

Albert "Kel" Kelly, (left) head of EPA's Superfund task force, and Doug Benevento updated the public on Butte Superfund cleanup issues in Butte, MT, April 11, 2018.
Nora Saks

Top national, regional and local officials from the Environmental Protection Agency made a stop in Butte on Wednesday to update the public on a laundry list of Superfund agency items. 

That included the gag order on the "conceptual agreement" reached in late January by the parties responsible for cleaning up the Butte Hill and upper Silver Bow Creek. 

EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento meeting with Anaconda residents on April 10, 2018
Nora Saks

CORRECTION: This story was updated on April 12, 2018 to clarify the legal status of the Anaconda Superfund cleanup, see copy in bold below.    

The EPA’s top regional administrator set a new timeline for completing cleanup of the Anaconda Superfund site, speaking today in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Old Works Golf Course.

"We will start in complete de-listing parts of the Anaconda Superfund site this year, so that we can start to lift the stigma,” said Doug Benevento, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 office in Denver.

Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Doug Benevento, at right of screen, spoke in Butte in January, 2018
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

This week, top staff from the Environmental Protection Agency will be in Butte and Anaconda meeting with local leaders, holding public meetings and touring Superfund sites.

Last year, the EPA added both sites to their so-called national “emphasis list.”

Butte, Montana, winter 2017.
Nora Saks

Montana is world famous for its pristine natural environment, but it’s also home to America’s largest Superfund site (in Butte) and numerous other wastelands of its industrial past. Over the years, various well-intentioned economic revivalists and snake oil salesmen have proposed solutions to alchemize mine waste into gold - first with the environmental restoration industry, now with bitcoin miners putting out shingles in historic hard rock mining towns. This series of stories will explore the Treasure State’s collapsed pride, and efforts to process its toxic shame and legacy into a new identity and economy.

A mining dump truck buries the abandoned Holy Saviour Church in the McQueen neighborhood in Butte during the expansion of the Berkeley Pit.
Walter Hinick, Montana Standard.

One of the longest serving newspaper photographers in the state had his job eliminated by Lee Enterprises last month.

Walter Hinick shot for Butte’s Montana Standard since 1976. Shortly after he lost his job, I had a chance to talk with him in Butte at the Mountain Con Mine overlook park.

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