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Shepherd residents file complaint to stop construction of landfill near Highway 87

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Posted at 6:01 PM, Jun 23, 2024

SHEPHERD - Construction is set to start on July 1 near Shepherd on a landfill for automotive shredder residue (ASR).

The planned site near Highway 87 and Shepherd Acton Road would use about 90 acres of the 320-acre site.

Some nearby residents filed a lawsuit alleging the Montana Department of Environmental (DEQ) did not do a complete report on the toxic materials.

They are concerned that the contaminants will get out and cause problems on their land.

Pacific Steel & Recycling expects to put about 25,000 tons of ASR from its Lockwood facility into its landfill annually.

The group Stop the Shepherd Landfill states in its lawsuit that the DEQ did not consider Perfluoroalkyl and Polfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are part of the shredded material.

“It's extremely hazardous to the community and DEQ just did not do a satisfactory job of finishing their analysis before permitting this project,” said Annalise Deters, co-founder of the group.

Deters lives near the site and says her group has submitted about 200 pages of scientific information on PFAS contaminants that she would like the DEQ to consider.

“It's actually not in their final environmental assessment anywhere,” Deters said. “But part of what our lawsuit is really focusing on and we're requesting an (Environmental Impact Statement), which is a more in-depth version of the environmental assessment which they've done.

In its environmental assessment, the DEQ states that the proposal meets minimum requirements of the Montana Solid Waste Management Act and the company's plan would mitigate the potential for harmful releases in documents filed with the DEQ.

The company says this is not a public landfill and will use what it calls monofilll repository to store ASR for the possibility of maximum recovery of recyclable material in the future.

“Stop the Shepherd Landfill group contacted EPA and has been consulting with them and it has been determined that they will not be able to recycle this material as is,” said Tricia Mae, also a co-founder of the group.

A DEQ spokesman stated in an email: "DEQ has yet to be formally notified of the lawsuit by the Montana Attorney General’s Office. As is department policy, DEQ does not comment on pending litigation."

Pacific says it will not make a statement related to legal matters.

Meanwhile, Stop the Shepherd Landfill has received support on its GoFundMe page to pay the law firm in its effort to halt construction.

“It's stressful,” Mae said. “It's scary but we feel it has to be stopped. “This information has to get out.”