MTPR

The Berkeley Pit

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.

Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for Montana Resources, standing above the Berkeley Pit.
Corin Cates-Carney

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.

The Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana, where thousands of migrating geese died this week.
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.

Berkeley Pit in Butte, MT
Flickr user Christopher (CC-BY-2.0)

The Montana Standard is suing to make Superfund negotiations in Butte public after they've been veiled in secrecy for 14 years. Nora Saks speaks with David McCumber, the editor of the newspaper, to find out more about their lawsuit and why the state pulled out of the clean-up settlement last week.

Extremophiles: The Berkeley Pit's Silver Lining?

Jun 15, 2016
The Berkeley pit in Butte, Montana.
NASA (CC-BY-2)

This story almost begins on a dark and stormy night in November of 1995, when 342 snow geese landed on Berkeley Pit Lake. Unfortunately, this was no ordinary lake and the story did not end well for these birds.

A lot of people know about the Berkeley Pit in Butte, but not many know about another significant pollution challenge in the Mining City. It’s called the Parrot Plume, and there’s controversy over whether it needs to be cleaned up, and if so, who would pay for it.

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.

Voices From Butte

May 22, 2014
Montanabw

5/13/14: This week on "In Other Words:" producers Ann Szalda-Petree and Clark Grant - himself a brand-new resident of Butte, MT * -  talk with four residents of The Mining City about its vibrant history and culture, and about the Berkeley Pit, the former open pit copper mine which is slowly filling with toxic water. Between conversations, you'll hear music by Clark Grant, Larry Hirshberg and Big Sky Revival.