MTPR

Nora Saks

Reporter

Nora Saks is a freelance radio and print journalist investigating themes of environmental justice in the Crown of the Continent and beyond.

She's currently a graduate student in the University of Montana's Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism Masters Program.

Having lived both north and south of the 49th parallel, she's inclined to use the term "bioregion" a little too frequently when describing her interest in exploring boundaries based on ecology rather than politics.

The Last First Mile

May 21, 2018
The Last First Mile
Nora Saks

A documentary about why the first mile of Silver Bow Creek in Butte was left for last to be cleaned up, and what a crew of feisty locals are doing about it.

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

Residents of Butte are one big step closer to learning details about the Superfund clean-up planned for the Butte Hill.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a joint motion on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and Atlantic Richfield to loosen the gag-order on the so-called “conceptual agreement” for the consent decree on this portion of Butte’s Superfund cleanup.

EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento, left, meets with more than a hundred people on April 10 at the Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda. Benevento set a new timeline for cleanup of the local Superfund site.
Nora Saks

CORRECTION: This story was updated on April 12, 2018 to clarify the legal status of the Anaconda Superfund cleanup, see copy in bold below.    

The EPA’s top regional administrator set a new timeline for completing cleanup of the Anaconda Superfund site, speaking today in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Old Works Golf Course.

"We will start in complete de-listing parts of the Anaconda Superfund site this year, so that we can start to lift the stigma,” said Doug Benevento, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 office in Denver.

Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Doug Benevento, at right of screen, spoke in Butte in January, 2018
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

This week, top staff from the Environmental Protection Agency will be in Butte and Anaconda meeting with local leaders, holding public meetings and touring Superfund sites.

Last year, the EPA added both sites to their so-called national “emphasis list.”

Butte, Montana, winter 2017.
Nora Saks

Montana is world famous for its pristine natural environment, but it’s also home to America’s largest Superfund site (in Butte) and numerous other wastelands of its industrial past. Over the years, various well-intentioned economic revivalists and snake oil salesmen have proposed solutions to alchemize mine waste into gold - first with the environmental restoration industry, now with bitcoin miners putting out shingles in historic hard rock mining towns. This series of stories will explore the Treasure State’s collapsed pride, and efforts to process its toxic shame and legacy into a new identity and economy.

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