The Environmental Protection Agency said again it has no plans to remove nearly 800,000 cubic yards of contaminated mine waste near the Butte Civic Center, a move that is drawing criticism from a local restoration group.
A lawyer for the EPA said in a Butte Natural Resource Damage Restoration Council meeting Thursday that the agency has no plans to participate in removing the waste, which is more toxic than the water in the Berkeley Pit.
At the meeting, the BNRC unveiled its preliminary conceptual restoration plan of the area.
The area is called Butte Area One and includes the Parrot tailings - 33 acres near the civic center and underneath land where the county houses its shops - the 30 acres of Diggings East and Northside tailings, which are on either side of George Street between Kaw Avenue and Casey Street, and the Blacktail Berm between Blacktail Creek and Interstate 15-90.
John McKee, a BNRC board member, lashed out at the EPA’s inaction, saying that the agency isn’t doing its job to remediate the land and instead is placing the burden to remove the waste on the BNRC. He said the BNRC is allocated $33 million from the Natural Resource Damage Program to restore landscapes -- not remediate them as well.
After studies by Nick Tucci, a hydrogeologist formerly with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, determined contaminated ground water in the area is moving toward Silver Bow Creek at a faster rate than previously thought, the BNRC decided it must remove the contamination before restoring the area.
The EPA effectively balks at that proposal, opting instead to leave the contamination in place.