Montana Public Radio

Superfund

The Washoe Smelter Stack in Anaconda.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Anaconda residents are one step closer to finding out more details about the final Superfund cleanup deal and plan that’s been under wraps for the last four months.

Silver Bow Creek in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks / MTPR

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to waive state water quality standards for a portion of Butte’s Superfund cleanup.

If the final Superfund cleanup deal currently being negotiated in Butte goes through, extensive work is planned to clean up and protect the major creek corridors in town.


Governor Steve Bullock has appointed a former liaison in the Obama White House to a state cabinet position leading the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. 

Butte locals took a close look at the master land use plan for the city's creek corridors at a meeting at Butte Brewing Company. November 1, 2018.
Nora Saks

When most people picture the Silver Bow Creek corridor in the middle of Butte, they think of a forgotten drainage ditch and an industrial wasteland.

But now, Atlantic Richfield, the BP-owned company in charge of cleaning it up, says they have a plan to turn it into a lush greenway, the likes of which could rival the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula. With interwoven trails and wetlands, and parks and playgrounds beckoning families to hang out. A natural paradise and a center of activity.

Cindy Perdue-Dolan (L) a field representative with Senator Daines' office looks on as Sister Mary Jo MacDonald shows pictures of the historic Upper Silver Bow Creek corridor. Members of ROCC and Montana's Board of Investments are also pictured.
Nora Saks / MTPR

At sunrise on Halloween, the Butte Archives conference room was full of dozens of people dressed not in scary costumes - but in suits.

All of the major players who are brokering Butte’s final Superfund cleanup deal were there - including elected officials, top staff and attorneys from local and state government, Atlantic Richfield Company, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Josh Bryson is the operations project manager with Atlantic Richfield Company. He's pictured outside the company headquarters in Butte. October 30, 2018.
Nora Saks / MTPR

This week, Butte residents will get an up-close look at what the city’s major creek corridors could look like in the future, once the Superfund cleanup is finished. 

This summer and fall, the parties in charge of Butte’s Superfund cleanup have been holding a series of public workshops to design what the Silver Bow and Blacktail Creek corridors in the center of town will be used for after the cleanup is over. Now, they’re ready to unveil their comprehensive land use plan for the creek areas at a culminating workshop and presentation this week.

Headframe of the Original Mine in Butte, MT.
Nora Saks

This week, Butte residents will have another chance to influence the direction of the second Superfund-related health study currently underway. MTPR's Nora Saks has more on the public workshop coming up Tuesday night.

Every five years, the Environmental Protection Agency requires the parties responsible for Butte’s Superfund cleanup to conduct a health study and look at how well the cleanup is protecting locals from exposure to toxic heavy metals in the environment.

An oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers, MT, May 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

A year-and-a-half after a mysterious, oily sheen was reported on the north end of Flathead Lake, a state agency is proposing a ban on new groundwater wells near Somers. It’s part of the cleanup plan for a local Superfund Site.

The Parrot Tailings removal project is underway in Butte. September 2018.
Nora Saks

Near Butte’s Civic Center, a massive construction project is going on across the street, in the heart of town. Mammoth excavators gouge out a colossal hole in the ground. Jumbo haul trucks whisk 70 ton loads of chewed-up earth away on repeat.

The viewing stand at the Berkeley Pit in September.
Nora Saks / MTPR

Construction on a long-awaited water treatment facility that will pump and treat toxic water from the Berkeley Pit officially began Monday in Butte.

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