Environmental Protection Agency

Regulators Stop Sale Of Montana Mine Waste "Bag O'Slag"

22 hours ago
Anaconda, Montana
Mark Halloway / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Environmental regulators have put a halt to a Montana business association’s sale of sandwich bags of mining waste advertised as a “Bag O’Slag.”

Federal investigators that study public health risks at Superfund sites had good news for Anacondans this week. At a meeting on Wednesday, they reported that the amount of lead and arsenic in residents' bodies are about the same as the rest of the country.

This week, the parties in charge of the Superfund cleanup of the Butte Hill and urban creek corridors agreed on a final cleanup deal, marking a turning point in the Mining City’s decades long Superfund saga.

Pollution from British Columbia coal mining operations is making its way into Montana and Idaho’s Kootenai River. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study found high levels of selenium in mountain whitefish eggs and that could be impacting the species’ reproduction.

The Environmental Protection Agency is rolling out an updated plan to protect Anaconda’s creeks from copper smelter waste. But some locals this week said they’re worried the federal government may back away from Montana’s strict water quality standards for heavy metals.

Those awaiting the final Superfund cleanup deal, or consent decree, for the Butte Hill and urban Silver Bow Creek corridor are going to have to wait a little longer.

Front of Custer Schools
Kayla Desroches / Yellowstone Public Radio


 A small Montana school an hour northeast of Billings recently detected lead in a school faucet.

Today is the day when a milestone in Butte’s Superfund cleanup was supposed to have been reached: a final Superfund deal for the Butte Hill. Now the parties negotiating that agreement say they need a little more time. 

On his last day on the job, former EPA Regional boss Doug Benevento told the parties hashing out the deal that they had until August 12 to get it done.

37 years ago, Atlantic Richfield abandoned an open pit copper mine in Butte and allowed it to flood with toxic mine water. Now, the company estimates they’re one month away from proving they’re in control of the Berkeley Pit. MTPR's Nora Saks got a sneak peek of their new water treatment facility and has more.

Affected area in Billings
Courtesy of DEQ & EPA


State and federal officials say an 855-acre area in central and downtown Billings should be considered for Superfund status due to indoor air quality contamination.

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