Montana Public Radio

Montana Resources

The Vortex Ring Avian Deterrent shoots a 200 mph blast of air to keep birds away from the toxic Berkeley Pit in Butte, MT.
Nora Saks

High above the Berkeley Pit, Butte’s famous copper mine turned toxic lake, a mini drone swoops and soars, then catches a thermal and floats. With its dark wings and yellow beak, it could easily be mistaken for a bird of prey. Just a few minutes after take off, it is.

“Oh, here comes somebody … bald eagle …"

Olga Kreimer

On a sunny Saturday, while thousands were marching for science around the world, about 50 people gathered inside the Knights of Columbus Hall in Butte for a different kind of Earth Day celebration.

It was what 74-year-old Mary Kay Craig was calling a Butte-style wake.

“Well I’m Irish, so what am I supposed to say?” she asked.

Craig is with the Citizens for Labor and Environmental Justice and she organized the event, called Hope for Snow Geese.

Berkeley Pit bird cannon, Butte, MT
Mark Thompson/Montana Resources

The people who manage the Berkeley Pit want to use lasers and cannons to try to save lives of migratory birds. Thousands of geese were killed last fall in the poisonous water of Butte’s Berkeley Pit. It was an environmental catastrophe that Mark Thompson hopes is never repeated.

David McCumber, editor of the Montana Standard in Butte, MT.
Mike Albans

As we recently reported, a big pile of old smelter waste in the middle of Butte is one step closer to being removed.

The state of Montana this month signed an agreement with mining company Montana Resources that could lead to the removal of the Parrot tailings; a 50-foot-deep-pile of tailings behind the Butte Civic Center. The Montana Standard reports the agreement is an important first step, but at least one major obstacle remains. David McCumber, editor of the Montana Standard joins us to explain:

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.

Progress is being reported this week on a long-delayed effort to remove a 50-foot-deep pile of smelter waste in the middle of Butte.

The State of Montana has signed an agreement with Montana Resources that will allow for the removal of the Parrot tailings behind the Butte Civic Center:

The Berkeley Pit in Butte
Mike Albans

Last week, migrating snow geese made an ill-fated decision to take a break at the toxic Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana. The numbers of dead birds are now predicted to be in the thousands. Nora Saks talks to David McCumber, the editor of the Montana Standard to find out the details surrounding the mass die-off.

Butte's American Legion baseball teams are now $1 million closer to a brand new facility at Copper Mountain Park.

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources contributed a total of $1 million to bring a proposed $2 million American Legion baseball facility to Butte.

Northwestern Energy will chip-in $50,000; half of that in cash, with the rest in the form of an in-kind labor donation to install lighting.

Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent predicts lots of people will attend night games.

A new study on the probability of more landslides at the Berkeley Pit Superfund site in Butte will be made public soon.

Last week Silver Bow County commissioners got a tour of the Butte Superfund site, led by Steve Walsh, an executive with Montana Resources. That company is actively mining for copper and molybdenum at the Continental Pit in Butte, but has operations at Berkeley Pit as well.

From a point high on the Berkeley Pit’s rim, Walsh pointed out where the company used to be more active there until last year.

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