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EPA makes Billings site a priority on Superfund list

Billings PCE.jpg
Posted at 9:43 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 00:23:51-04

The EPA announced on Wednesday it plans on more investigating and the possibility of more mitigation of a longtime contaminated site in midtown Billings.

A chemical plume that started in the 1960s has been mostly cleaned up and stretches an estimated three miles from the 700 block of Central Avenue in a northeast direction.

Contaminated soil was removed from the site on Central Avenue in 2007.

The concern has been about tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, a chemical once used in dry cleaning.

That area is now on the National Priorities List under the EPA's Superfund program.

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"That essentially means it's among sites across the nation that have contamination concerns posing significant human health, environmental risks," said Ryan Kloberdanz, EPA Region 8 community involvement coordinator. "EPA proposes and then adds sites to the NPL when we feel that there is a risk at the site and that it is time to conduct an investigation into any possible risk at the site."

The DEQ started assessing the site in 1993 with more investigating from 1999 to 2001.

In 2007 the EPA removed and disposed of the contaminated soil.

The EPA proposed putting the Billings PCE site on the list in 2020.

"That was with support of the city of Billings, and then Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, current Montana Gov. (Greg Gianforte), RiverStone Health and the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council to gain their support for adding the site to the Superfund list," Kloberdanz said. "This is all done on possible contamination, possible adverse effects to human health and environment but at this time, EPA has no reports of adverse health effects."

The plan now is to investigate and hear from the public.

"Sampling different areas within the PCE plume, that we designated as a Superfund site and so once we get the information back from that sampling, that will help us come up with a remediation plan," he said. "Which will be the next step and just ensuring that if there are contaminants we find that they won't be a threat to anyone living in the area, or just outside of it."

More information about the Billings PCE Superfund site is on the EPA website.