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Study: Berkeley Pit best place to dispose of Butte Superfund waste material

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Posted at 10:10 AM, Apr 04, 2024

BUTTE — It’s being proposed that the best place to dispose of the tons of toxic material that will be removed in Butte’s Superfund cleanup should be the most toxic place in Butte—the Berkeley Pit.

“We’ve got to take this waste somewhere, so we want to put it in the most appropriate site for the community that’s most protective of the health of the citizens and the environment,” said Butte Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher.

Atlantic Richfield/BP recently released an analysis that determined the pit would be the preferred site to be the repository for most of the toxic material removed from the cleanup area running through the center of Butte.

Because not all the material can go in the pit, other sites in Butte will have to be used and then be capped with less contaminated dirt.

“The cleanup of the corridor is right in the middle of town; there is going to have to be truck traffic that is going to take some of the materials to different repository sites,” said Gallagher.

Using the pit is good news for many people who were concerned that the repository site was going to be next to historic neighborhoods in Uptown Butte. Several citizens spoke out last year against putting a dump site near the Centerville neighborhood.

“I honestly believe if we didn’t step up and fight this we just would have saw dump trucks pulling up this summer dumping stuff in Dublin Gulch,” said Butte resident Bill Foley.

The proposal states that materials taken to the pit will be pumped through pipes and won’t have to be hauled by truck traffic. Officials with Montana Resources say they have the capacity and resources to pump and deposit the waste material.

“I feel very good about the direction we’re going and so, you know, we feel optimistic about the path forward,” said Gallagher.

Some claim officials involved in the cleanup should have been more transparent.

“People shouldn’t have to go to meetings and fight to stop the government from dumping toxic waste near their homes,” said Foley.

More public meetings will be announced later. The EPA will ultimately decide on the repository sites.