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mining

Mine headframes in uptown Butte, MT.
Josh Burnham

This week, the parties in charge of the Superfund cleanup of the Butte Hill and urban creek corridors agreed on a final cleanup deal, marking a turning point in the Mining City’s decades long Superfund saga.

Treated water originating from the Berkeley Pit is discharged into Silver Bow Creek via a 24 inch buried pipe behind these rocks and manhole, Sept. 30, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

This week, for the first time ever, once toxic water from the Berkeley Pit, the abandoned open pit copper mine in Butte, is being treated and released into the headwaters of the Clark Fork River.

About 50 people attended EPA's Superfund meeting at the Anaconda senior center to learn about the agency's proposed updates to the surface water remedy for the Anaconda Regional Waste, Water, and Soils Operable Unit. September 17, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency is rolling out an updated plan to protect Anaconda’s creeks from copper smelter waste. But some locals this week said they’re worried the federal government may back away from Montana’s strict water quality standards for heavy metals.

A slickens in Montana's upper Clark Fork basin. Slickens are areas devoid of life due to heavy metal contamination from mine waste.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Montana wildlife officials are investigating what’s being described as a "significant" fish kill along the banks of the Upper Clark Fork River.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist Nathan Cook fielded a report this weekend of several dead fish downstream of Warm Springs and upstream of Galen.

Those awaiting the final Superfund cleanup deal, or consent decree, for the Butte Hill and urban Silver Bow Creek corridor are going to have to wait a little longer.

Wednesday the EPA released the changes it wants to make to the existing 1998 legal cleanup plan for a 170 square mile portion of the Anaconda Smelter Superfund site. The proposed changes are aimed at better protecting creeks from contaminated runoff and erosion.

Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment. Butte, MT. Oct. 3, 2018.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Butte mining company Montana Resources now has the go-ahead from state officials to expand its waste storage facility northeast of town and the Berkeley Pit.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued its final decision Friday allowing the copper mining company to build the Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment 50 feet higher.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality opened a 30-day public comment period Tuesday for a proposed major revision at Spring Creek Coal Mine in southeast Montana. The revision could allow about 72 million tons of coal to be mined.

Mines No Safer Despite $1 Billion In Fines, Federal Audit Says

Aug 22, 2019

An audit of the federal system that fines mining companies for unsafe conditions found no evidence that more than $1 billion in mine safety penalties over 18 years deterred unsafe mining practices.

The four-year long audit from the Office of Inspector General of the Labor Department says its analysis of Mine Safety and Health Administration accident and violations data "showed no correlation between penalties paid and the safety of mine operations."


The state expects to release final details of plans to clean up groundwater contaminated by toxic coal ash at the Colstrip power plant next month.

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