Environmental Protection Agency

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Environmental Protection Agency now formally proposes adding the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company to the National Superfund List.

That makes the former smelter eligible for additional study and cleanup resources.

Cyanide, fluoride and various metals have been detected in soils, surface ponds and groundwater at the now-closed Columbia Falls smelter. That's why city manager, Susan Nicosia, supports the EPA's proposal to add the site to its priorities list.

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Columbia Falls may know by autumn whether the now-closed aluminum smelter there will become a Superfund site.

Last Tuesday the owners of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced the smelter is permanently closing.

The next day the Environmental Protection Agency notified Governor Steve Bullock it proposes to add the plant to its priority list of industrial sites that should be cleaned.

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

To many Columbia Falls residents the full closure of the local aluminum smelter was more a matter of when than if.

That question was answered with certainty this week when Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced that it's permanently shuttering the plant.

Local real estate agent Bill Dakin say this development was a long time coming.

"This announcement, finally, an honest announcement that this plant will never refine aluminum again, is kind of a new day here."

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced Tuesday it’s permanently closing its doors. The plant stopped production in 2009 during the height of the recession. The company was once a major employer in the Flathead Valley.

A skeleton crew has maintained Columbia Falls Aluminum Company for over 5 years as officials waited for the right time to reopen.

Word came this week that time will never come.

Company spokesman Haley Beaudry says several factors sealed the plant's fate including increased global competition and continued depressed aluminum prices.

Glendive residents can resume drinking from their taps after a federal official said there are no further signs of contamination from last Saturday’s crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River six miles upstream. The Environmental Protection Agency says test results no longer show elevated levels of cancer-causing benzene in the municipal water supply.

Bridger Pipeline LLC

It doesn’t look like Glendive’s tap water will be declared safe to drink today.

Glendive residents were told not to drink or cook with town water on Sunday, following Saturday’s oil spill into the Yellowstone River six miles upstream.

Glendive draws its drinking water from the Yellowstone, and benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer, was detected in tap water on Sunday.

Update 5:45 p.m., 01/21/15: The EPA now says it's unlikely that Glendive's drinking water system will be back online tonight.

Courtesy EPA

MTPR News Director Eric Whitney spoke with Paul Peronard with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the oil pipeline spill and cleanup on the Yellowstone River near Glendive, MT. Listen to the full interview below.

 

libbymt.com

On Thursday the EPA wrapped up three meetings in Libby and Troy to tell people about the agency's new asbestos risk assessment. In a determination that people have been waiting years to hear, it says that, in general, it's safe to live in Libby now.
 

But it also says that, for people who live in houses that haven't been through an extensive EPA cleanup, the risk of getting asbestos-related disease is significantly higher.

Southeastern Montana's Crow Nation says President Obama’s pending climate plan would wreak economic havoc on the already-impoverished reservation.

Under the administration's proposal, states must reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is going up to bat for the Crow Nation. Fox says he's troubled by how the President is unilaterally guiding this climate proposal.

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