To remove the Parrot smelter tailings, which are poisoning groundwater in the middle of Butte, Butte-Silver Bow must first remove the county shops, which are on top of the tailings pile.
A likely future location for the shops, which houses vehicles, equipment and signage, is the Montana Pole Plant property along Greenwood Avenue and west of south Montana Street.
Money from the Butte Natural Resource Damage Restoration Council – up to $30,000 – will enable the county to do a facility site study to select a new location for the shops.
Dave Schultz, Butte-Silver Bow Public Works director, said the county will have an engineering firm complete the site review soon.
"We’re going to evaluate up to three locations in the Butte urban area over the next three months and try to find a good spot to locate the county shops,” he said. “The community has expressed a desire for the Parrot tailings to be removed. Since the shops exist on top of the tailings they have got to go.”
The current location of the county shops covers about 20 acres of the 35-acre tailings plume behind the Butte Civic Center, 1340 Harrison Ave.
Groundwater in Butte is not consumed; the city's water supply is provided by area rivers and streams.
Pat Cunneen, environmental science specialist with the Natural Resource Damage Program and BNRC facilitator, said removing and rebuilding the county shops will cost about $7 million, and the first step is the site study.