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Federal Judge Gives Final Green Light To Butte's $150M Superfund Deal

Silver Bow Creek in Butte, Montana.
Silver Bow Creek in Butte, Montana.

Butte’s $150 million cleanup deal is at last carved in legal stone after more than a decade of negotiations, and more than three decades on the Superfund National Priorities List.

On Wednesday, a federal district judge gave his final stamp of approval to an overarching Superfund settlement for the Butte Hill and its headwaters streams below.

Joe Griffin, the Vice President of Butte’s Citizens Technical Environmental Committee , who devoted his career to the Superfund cleanup, was all smiles upon hearing the consent decree is now a done deal. 

"Boy, for me, it’s like a 30-year yee haw!" said Griffin.

The consent decree is a massive contract between the Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Montana, Butte-Silver Bow County, and Atlantic Richfield , the former oil company on the hook for the historic mine waste cleanup.

It legally enshrines a technical and financial blueprint for finishing and maintaining the Mining City’s Superfund cleanup, and protecting Silver Bow and Blacktail Creeks from heavy metals, forever. 

Learn more about the past, present and future of one of America's most notorious Superfund sites, with Richest Hill.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Nora Saks is a freelance radio and print journalist investigating themes of environmental justice in the Crown of the Continent and beyond.