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Environment & Science

Montana Seeking Comment On Plan To Address Colstrip Groundwater Contamination

Four tall stacks billow white steam into a blue sky
Jackie Yamanaka
Yellowstone Public Radio
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is accepting comments on a proposal to remediate groundwater contamination from the coal ash ponds of Colstrip Units 1 and 2 through December 14.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a proposal to remediate pollution from wastewater facilities at Units 1 and 2 at the Colstrip Steam Electric Station.

Colstrip operator Talen Energy is required to address groundwater contamination from leaking coal ash ponds, along with the storage ponds themselves.

In its report, Talen proposes to flush and capture contaminated groundwater and drain and cap the Stage 2 ponds.

Members of Northern Plains Resource Council dispute the solutions suggested in the report, saying Colstrip’s ash ponds have been in direct contact with and polluting groundwater for decades. Northern Plains has proposed Talen excavate the coal ash to newly constructed landfills.

DEQ will accept public comment on the report through December 14. The agency expects to issue conditional approval by the end of the year.

Colstrip Units 1 and 2 are slated to shut down later this year.

Copies of the reports are available at DEQ’s office at 1520 E. Sixth Ave., Helena; Talen Montana’s office, 303 N. Broadway, Suite 400, Billings; and the Bicentennial Library, 419 Willow Ave., Colstrip. The report is also available online at

The public comment period starts on Nov. 14, 2019, and ends Dec. 14, 2019. Written comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 14, and can be sent to Sara Edinberg, Waste Management and Remediation Division, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901, or to