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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.

Tom Laughlin of Anaconda, MT says he has an autoimmune disease and he's concerned about the health impacts of the old copper smelter in town.  He met with officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during a public health listening sessi
Corin Cates-Carney

More than 35 years after the Anaconda copper smelter closed, federal health officials are partnering with state and local governments to visit the town and to listen to people’s health concerns possibly related to the toxic waste left behind.

From 1:30 to 7:30 Thursday afternoon at the Anaconda senior center, locals could stop by and talk to government scientists and doctors about their worries.

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

Top national, regional and local officials from the Environmental Protection Agency made a stop in Butte on Wednesday to update the public on a laundry list of Superfund agency items. 

That included the gag order on the "conceptual agreement" reached in late January by the parties responsible for cleaning up the Butte Hill and upper Silver Bow Creek. 

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.”

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