Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Talen Proposes Partial Excavation Of Colstrip Waste Ponds

Sep 22, 2020

The company that operates the Colstrip coal fired power plant is proposing to partially excavate waste ponds that have been contaminating groundwater for decades.

State regulators are now accepting comments on the plan.

Talen Energy’s report explores ways to prevent future groundwater pollution from the Units 1 and 2 coal ash ponds, which are leaking coal ash contaminants like boron and sulfate into groundwater.

The operator of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant submitted its cleanup plan for parts of the plant it shuttered early this year.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality accepted Talen Energy’s remediation plan for the now-defunct Units 1 and 2 and opened up public comment on that report this week.

Sara Edinberg with DEQ says the plan inventories what’s left inside the buildings.

The Montana Department of Environmental quality is asking for public input on a draft plan to clean up contaminated sediment at the former Bonner Mill site near the Blackfoot River.

Montana is getting ready to green light the proposed expansion of a waste-holding pond at a mine in south central Montana.

Libby Superfund map.
US Environmental Protection Agency

A proposed agreement charging BNSF Railway Company with the operation and maintenance of the Libby Asbestos Superfund unit running along its tracks was announced Tuesday by federal and state officials.

National Weather Service

Several communities across southwest Montana are beginning to see smoke move in from wildfires in northern California. Fine particulate levels in Bozeman shifted into the unhealthy category around 8 a.m. Saturday, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s air monitoring website. Butte’s air quality also shifted into unhealthy territory around 10 a.m.

Hamilton, Dillon and West Yellowstone were all experiencing air quality levels that can affect sensitive groups Saturday morning as well.

Nathan Cook, FWP fisheries biologist, Beau Downing, Upper Clark Fork Restoration Manager with Montana's Resource Damage Program, & Alex Leone, restoration specialist with Clark Fork Coalition, scout deposits of mine waste along the upper Clark Fork River
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The state started new work this week to prevent toxic metals in century-old mine waste from seeping into the Upper Clark Fork River. 

On a warm August morning, representatives of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the state’s Natural Resource Damage Program, and the nonprofit Clark Fork Coalition and I set out on a bright green raft for a float just south of Deer Lodge.

A pile of coal.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)

The expansion of a British Columbia coal mine upstream of Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River will undergo review from the federal Canadian government. The decision handed down Wednesday will apply more scrutiny to the project.

Montana Issues Permit For Black Butte Copper Mine Project

Aug 17, 2020

The State of Montana this week greenlit the first phase of construction of an underground copper mine in the central part of the state.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality on Aug. 14 issued Tintina Montana, Inc. a permit to begin surface preparation for the proposed 311 acre Black Butte Copper Mine north of White Sulphur Springs.

DEQ spokesperson Rebecca Harbage says the permit allows the company to get started in the area.

"It doesn’t involve drilling into the ground. It’s preparation of the surface area itself," Harbage said.

The first school to submit its results under Montana’s new lead monitoring program tested positive for lead.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says 36 different water fixtures at Hedges Elementary School in Kalispell showed at least some level of lead, which can enter water through old pipes.

DEQ says children are most vulnerable to lead exposure and the effects can include damage to the brain, red blood cells and kidneys.

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