EPA unveils details of Smurfit cleanup plan - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

EPA unveils details of Smurfit cleanup plan


FRENCHTOWN - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is presenting its plan for cleaning up the old Smurfit Stone mill site following more than a year of testing and analysis.

The plan outlines how contaminants will be taken from the core of the mill site and moved to a special waste area at the Missoula landfill. The release of the EPA's plans come seven years after the container mill closed, throwing the future of the 3,000-acre site in limbo.

While the company that purchased the mill, M2Green, has struggled with plans to scrap the mill and turn the site into a "technology center", Missoula County leaders, the Clark Fork Coalition, and other agencies have pressed for the site to be cleaned of industrial waste. 

Testing last year showed specific areas of the site are contaminated with PCBs, which are known to cause cancer. Those spots are near the old high-density pulp tank and the transformer storage building where oil containing PCBs remains in the ground. 

The plan is to dig out the sites with the highest concentration of contaminants and truck that soil to the landfill, replacing the dirt with clean soil.  EPA officials believe the work can be wrapped up in a couple of months.

EPA leaders will discuss the cleanup plan in a meeting with the Smurfit Stone Community Advisory Group at the Frenchtown Fire Station Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Smurfit Stone operated a pulp mill at the site from 1957 to 2010.

The EPA says earlier waste disposal practices when the mill was operational may have caused a release of hazardous substances into the environment.

A screening determined the site’s primary contamination sources include four sludge ponds, an emergency spill pond, an exposed soil pile adjacent to a landfill, a wastewater storage pond and a soil land farming area.

RELATED: Missoula County takes Smurfit site owners to court

RELATED: Missoula County hires contractor to check Smurfit dikes

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