Superfund

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday unveiled a final cleanup deal for Butte, marking a crucial turning point in the decades-long Superfund saga of Montana’s Mining City.

More than a century of copper mining in Butte helped electrify America and win both world wars. But, it also left behind a huge toxic mess that earned the city a Superfund site designation in the 1980s.

This season on Richest Hill you’ve been hearing all about what mining meant for Butte, the toxic legacy it left behind, and about sprawling efforts to clean it up that have spanned more than 30 years.

And this week, something big is gonna happen.

The Environmental Protection Agency says another Libby Asbestos Superfund Site unit is ready to be delisted. The public has 30 days to comment on delisting the former vermiculite export plant.

A new study says it’s possible to rebuild a creek — destroyed by decades of mining — that once flowed through Butte. But it won’t be easy and it won’t come cheap.

The superfund site is located in Anaconda, Montana.
Mark Halloway / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Trump administration is building up the biggest backlog in years of unfunded Superfund projects.

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.

For the first time ever, once-toxic water from the Berkeley Pit, Butte’s abandoned open pit copper mine, is being pumped, treated and discharged into Silver Bow Creek.

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.

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.

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