Montana Public Radio

Fritz Daily

Barbara Miller with Habitat for Humanity, is concerned that the residential action level for lead in Butte that triggers cleanup is too high. May 23, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

On Thursday night, Ian Magruder stood up in front of a crowd of about 100 at the Montana Tech Library Auditorium in Butte and addressed a panel of officials from the state and federal environmental protection agencies.

"I stood here in this room 15 years ago and railed against the EPA for their proposed plan at the time. And I thought it was a joke. Today I feel differently."

The panel at an April 23, 2019 public meeting on the "proposed plan" included officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

On Tuesday night, Butte residents got their first chance to respond to the changes EPA wants to make to the Superfund cleanup plan for the Butte Hill and Silver Bow Creek corridor. 

Martin Hestmark with the EPA’s regional office, explained to the 80 or so people at the public meeting at Montana Tech that the crux of the plan focuses on managing stormwater. It runs off the steep Butte Hill and contaminates Silver Bow and Blacktail Creeks in the valley below.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler outside Anaconda, Sept. 7, 2018. Behind him, L to R: Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Superfund Coordinator Carl Nyman, MT A.G. Tim Fox, EPA Regional Adm. Doug Benevento, County CEO Bill Everett, Sen. Steve Daines
Eric Whitney

"I’m very happy to be here. This is a historic occasion," U.S. Senator Steve Daines said at a press conference in Butte Friday morning.

He was introducing the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who, at his invitation, was visiting Superfund sites in Butte and Anaconda. The last time the top boss of the EPA did that was 28 years earlier.

L to R, Butte Superfund Activist Fritz Dailey, US Senator Steve Daines and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at the confluence of Blacktail and Silver Bow Creeks in Butte, September 7, 2018.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency visited the Superfund sites in Butte and Anaconda Friday. The last time the head of the agency did so was 28 years ago.

Andrew Wheeler was named acting administrator of the EPA in July, following the departure of Scott Pruitt amid ethics scandals.

Scott Pruitt resigned as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, June 5, 2018.
PD.

Longtime Butte Superfund watchdog Fritz Daily says he’s not particularly surprised that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt abruptly resigned Thursday amid various ethics investigations.

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. 

Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for Montana Resources, standing above the Berkeley Pit.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

When 10,000 snow geese stopped to rest in Butte, in late November, the birds didn’t know they were landing in a toxic pit filled with acidic wastewater.

Hawk calls, intended to to scare away other birds, blare from speakers surrounding the pit.