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The original item was published from 10/30/2014 8:06:01 AM to 11/14/2014 12:05:01 AM.

News Flash

Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: October 30, 2014

[ARCHIVED] County asks for comment on pole plant future

Four proposed uses for the once-contaminated, 85-acre Montana Pole Plant site in Butte are on the table.

And your opinion is wanted.

The plant, near Montana Street and Interstate 15-90, operated from 1946 to 1984, when it was shut down after a person walking along Silver Bow Creek noticed oil leaching into the water.

Officials eventually realized a 42-acre plume of byproducts from the chemicals -- such as dioxins and pentachlorophenol -- used to treat fence posts and railroad ties was polluting not only the creek, but soil and groundwater.

For 20 years, the state has treated the site. Though the groundwater will need to be treated for years to come, state Department of Environmental Quality officials have determined that the soil is clean enough to be spread out over the site and capped.

Not everyone is happy about that.

At a public meeting Wednesday – one of several on the proposals – Fritz Daily, longtime watchdog on contaminated sites in Butte, said the plan to leave the treated waste in place on site is unacceptable.

“I cannot believe the state of Montana, EPA and Butte-Silver Bow could support leaving waste in place,” he said. “It’s time to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done. It’s sinful to leave that waste in place.”

Because the waste is organic soil and not mine waste, the contaminated soil must be incinerated instead of placed in a mine waste repository – a prohibitively expensive process.

But that doesn’t matter, Daily maintains. The right thing to do is remove the waste.

“These are forever decisions and they have forever consequences,” he said. “Seems like Butte-Silver Bow is content accepting another deal rather than cleaning up the town and providing a clean and healthy environment for the residents.

“I do not believe this remedy is protective of human health and the environment as is a legal and Constitutional requirement of the state and the EPA,’’ Daily said.

Jocelyn Dodge, recreation forester for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, suggested the state and the county consider using some of the money to install an incinerator somewhere in Butte to remove the contaminated soil.

She suggested that the incinerator could be converted after that process to a biomass plant, providing new industry and jobs in the community.

Lisa DeWitt, DEQ Superfund manager, said that what happens at the site is ultimately up to Butte-Silver Bow.

Public input workshops today

The workshops today to discuss proposed uses of the Montana Pole Plant are:

Noon, Thursday, at the Butte Civic Center foyer, 1340 Harrison Ave.
6 p.m., Thursday, at the Fire Training Center, 350 Josette Ave.

Read the full story in the Montana Standard
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