The Environmental Protection Agency today designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Environmental Protection Agency today designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site.

Swiss commodities firm Glencore announced the former smelter would be permanently shuttered back in the spring of 2015.

Libby superfund map
US Environmental Protection Agency

August often means peak wildfire season in Northwest Montana, as thunderstorms spin off lightning strikes into forests that are dried out by a summer’s worth of heat.

And wildfires are especially concerning east of Libby, where the former W.R. Grace asbestos mine sits, surrounded by the Kootenai National Forest.

A Calbag Resources sign at an October 2015 meeting shows some of the work in progress at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company.
Corin Cates-Carney

Last week, the Department of Environmental Quality approved a plan to remove hazardous waste at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company in preparation for the plant’s demolition.

Montana Standard Editor David McCumber.

Significant changes seem to be coming in the ongoing Butte Superfund cleanup.

Downtown Libby, MT.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it is giving final approval to the Libby Superfund asbestos cleanup program. Work to clean up the town started about 15 years ago.

The Berkeley pit in Butte, Montana.

This week hundreds of people in Butte got a long-awaited chance to talk Superfund issues with the EPA and state and local leaders. The event was co-sponsored by the Montana Standard newspaper. Susan Dunlap is the Standard’s natural resource reporter. She was at the meeting and joins us now.

The Parrot Smelter operated between 1891 and 1899

The State of Montana says the best way to clean up toxic waste rock at the former Parrot copper smelter site in Butte is to dump it into the Berkeley pit. The buried tailings threaten to contaminate Silver Bow Creek and the Clark Fork River.

Uptown Butte, looking north, at the intersection of Main Street and Park Street in April, 2006.

The board that’s in charge of $14 million for community redevelopment related to the Butte Superfund settlement said this week that it only intends to use interest that money is earning to fund local grant requests. Reporter Susan Dunlap has been following the board for the Montana Standard, and joined us earlier to explain what it’s doing.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) reached a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday to begin investigating cleanup options for the former aluminum smelter. CFAC officials hope their work will be good enough to avoid a Superfund listing.

Courtesy Photo

The EPA’s report concluded that it’s possible to live and work in Libby and Troy without concern of suffering from the respiratory diseases associated with asbestos. It confirms findings released in a preliminary report eleven months ago.