MTPR

Superfund

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new chief wants to prioritize and streamline the nation’s major Superfund cleanups. And that makes at least one watchdog organization nervous. EPA chief Scott Pruitt says America’s Superfund cleanups take too long to start and too long to finish.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified two compounds in the mysterious oily sheen detected along the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers earlier this month.

Volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds were previously detected in samples taken from water pooled along the shoreline at Somers Bay.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

BNSF railway and the Environmental Protection Agency are both waiting on sampling results to determine the source of the unidentified sheen on Flathead Lake in Somers. They expect those results back by Monday.

Flathead Lake. Flathead County Commissioners are considering a proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns.
William Neuheisel (CC-BY-2)

The Environmental Protection Agency and BNSF Railway are responding to an unidentified sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake. 

Olga Kreimer

On a sunny Saturday, while thousands were marching for science around the world, about 50 people gathered inside the Knights of Columbus Hall in Butte for a different kind of Earth Day celebration.

It was what 74-year-old Mary Kay Craig was calling a Butte-style wake.

“Well I’m Irish, so what am I supposed to say?” she asked.

Craig is with the Citizens for Labor and Environmental Justice and she organized the event, called Hope for Snow Geese.

Outside of th CFAC Superfund Site in Columbia Falls.
Nicky Ouellet

Shannon Stringer has an opinion that’s not entirely popular in Columbia Falls.

“I do. I've gotten into heated discussions with other people in the community, including fellow co-workers, that are totally opposite,” he said.

Stringer thinks it’s a good thing that the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company was listed as a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency last September.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Courtesy EPA

There’s some good news in the latest sampling for contaminants at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company site on the Flathead River. That’s according to Mike Cirian with the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There wasn’t anything out there that we didn’t expect, and there's no urgent or emergency type responses needed at this time," Cirian says.

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.

Montana Standard Editor David McCumber.
Mike Albans

Last week, a citizens' environmental group in Butte presented new findings on levels of heavy metals contamination in Silver Bow Creek. Nora Saks talks to David McCumber, editor of the Montana Standard, about that study and about the Superfund clean-up going forward.

Libby superfund map.
US Environmental Protection Agency

People living in Libby and Troy have until the end of March to contact the Environmental Protection Agency to have their houses checked for asbestos contamination for free. The EPA issued a "last call" notice Monday.

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.

'Learning the Name of a River is Just the Beginning'

Dec 1, 2016

by Noah Belanger

I moved to Missoula two years ago without a solid plan. I knew that, eventually, I would attend the University of Montana, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what I would study or when that would be. I wasn’t even sure this was the real reason I was here. What I did know is that when I drove over Lost Trail Pass and headed down the Bitterroot towards Missoula, when I saw impossibly hard and beautiful mountains butt up against soft green valley, I was in love.

Newspaper: Butte Citizens Have Lost Faith In Superfund Talks

Nov 29, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Confidential Superfund settlement negotiations to clean up a century's worth of mining waste in Butte need to be opened to the public because residents have lost faith that the U.S. government will protect their interests, an attorney for a Montana newspaper said Tuesday.

Judge To Hear Arguments On Disclosing Butte's Secret Superfund Talks

Nov 28, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An attorney for a Montana newspaper and an advocacy group will try to persuade a federal judge to strike down a 14-year-old court order that made settlement talks on how to clean up the nation's largest Superfund site confidential.

On December 16, 2011, I was one of a couple hundred history-conscious Missoulians who walked onto a snow-covered bluff above the Milltown Dam abutment to see something you almost never get to see: a river tangibly restored. Below us, the Clark Fork began to spill down its reconstructed stream bed, joining the also-undamned Blackfoot River in free flow for the first time since the dam was built in 1908.

'Restore Our Creek' Unveils Vision For 'Headwaters Park' In Butte

Nov 7, 2016
Montana Standard Editor David McCumber.
Courtesy

A citizen's group in Butte Thursday presented a comprehensive, crowd-sourced vision for what they'd like to see happen in the contaminated corridor of Silver Bow Creek. MTPR's Nora Saks talks to Montana Standard Editor David McCumber to find out the details.

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

On Monday night, the EPA presented its five-year review of the Superfund cleanup in Butte to a room full of frustrated residents and officials. David McCumber, editor of The Montana Standard talks to MTPR's Nora Saks about why the meeting got heated.

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Local businesses got an update today on the cleanup at the former Columbia Falls aluminum plant. The plant was listed as a superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency last month.

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.

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
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.
Courtesy

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

Downtown Libby, MT.
libbymt.com

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.
NASA (CC-BY-2)

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
(PD)

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.
(PD)

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.

Brett McCully, Director of Operations for Lincoln County Port Authority

Libby and Troy are beginning a campaign to re-brand themselves as places to live, visit and invest in – trying to shake off more than a decade-old economic shadow.

"We’re building on some past efforts from local organizations," Tina Oliphant of Libby & Troy 2020 Initiative said. 

Pages