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EPA promises transparency in Butte Superfund cleanup

Posted at 8:54 AM, Apr 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 10:54:00-04

BUTTE – While a consent decree was reached in February over the future cleanup of mine waste in Butte’s Superfund site, people still don’t know what’s in that agreement.

Environmental Protection Agency officials assured Butte it is taking action to make the agreement more transparent.

“On April 27th we have a status conference with the judge. The parties have come together and we’d like to modify the confidentiality order so we can bring more information the community,” said EPA Regional Director Doug Benevento.

EPA officials held a public hearing Wednesday at the Butte Public Archives and took questions from the packed room. The consent decree was reached between the EPA, Butte, Atlantic Richfield and other agencies on plans to clean mine waste along Silver Bow Creek and other parts of the city.

“Westside soils needs to be addressed, that’s an area that we need to do additional soil removal and other remedies. And we also need to focus on Berkeley Pit which Montana Resources is doing great work in trying to begin to treat that water earlier,” Benevento said.

Butte’s relationship with the EPA has been strained, so those who attended the meeting were somewhat skeptical. But they said that could change once they see some action and the details of the consent decree.

“The rubber meets the road when the consent decree comes out and we find out what John Ethe remedy, what is the restoration as we look forward. This community is committed to a lot of stuff happening including restoring the creek and we want to see how the thing they’ve come together within secret looks like once it’s out in the open,” said Evan Barrett of the Restore Our Creek Coalition.

The EPA hopes cleanup will begin this summer and the goal is to have Butte no longer listed as a Superfund site by 2024.