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Contaminated Billings Site Selected For National Priorities List

Billings, Montana
Ali Eminov
Billings, Montana

A contaminated area in Billings is slated to receive federal funds for sampling and cleanup after earning a spot on a national list of Superfund sites.

The Environmental Protection Agency published its decision to grant the Billings site Superfund status in the federal register on Thursday.

844 acres of central and downtown Billings saw years of contamination from solvents that dry cleaning businesses used from the 1960s possibly up until the early 1990s, according to theEPA.

Officials estimate the contamination plume could affect more than 1,500 businesses, schools and homes. Anna Weidinger owns one of the houses within the plume and says she welcomes federal dollars to cover contamination testing costs.

“I think it’s really exciting, obviously very good news for those of us in this community who need that testing,” she says.

The EPA says groundwater contamination from dry cleaning chemicals like tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, could produce cancer-causing vapors in local buildings.

EPA community involvement coordinator Ryan Kloberdanz says the agency will collect data as the multiyear process continues.

“Our job now is to come and complete an investigation of the site to see what the possible contaminations are and then from there to draw up a remediation plan,” he says.

This will be the second Superfund site in the Billings area. The EPA says federal funds will cover building investigations, sampling and mitigations where needed.

The EPA says officials will add updates and announce community meetings on the Billings PCE page.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.