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EPA promises more sampling this fall at Smurfit site - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

EPA promises more sampling this fall at Smurfit site

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FRENCHTOWN - US Environmental Protection Agency staff say while they've developed plans for some initial cleanup at the old Smurfit Stone mill site, more sampling is planned for this fall. 

The EPA released its first set of cleanup plans for the mill's industrial core, where operations stopped over six years ago, earlier this week. That involves removal and cleanup of oils containing what it says are smaller amounts of PCBs, which can cause cancer. 

But the agency says more sampling is scheduled this fall with the goal of getting the mill property ready for future use, "Get this site back into use. So we're moving quickly on that," EPA Remediation Manager Sara Sparks said.

Sparks says the agency hopes to remove soil containing the PCBs first but will follow up with more testing. They also plan to do a "berm study", looking for contamination in the old holding ponds adjacent to the mill. Missoula County and local groups are afraid those berms keeping the ponds from leaking into the Clark Fork are in danger of failing in a flood. 

Sparks maintains the ponds were only used for cooling water from mill operations, although county officials say there was wastewater stored there as well, "it defines what we're going to look at, what are we going to do, what samples are we going to take to complete that berm study."

The EPA will be taking public comments on the new cleanup and sampling plans until Oct. 18.

RELATED: EPA unveils details of Smurfit cleanup plan

RELATED: Missoula County takes Smurfit site owners to court

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