EPA, state receive criticism for “flawed” assessment of Smurfit contamination

Posted at 3:29 PM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 17:29:17-04

FRENCHTOWN – The Environmental Protection Agency is being criticized for its analysis of contamination at the former Smurfit Stone mill site in Frenchtown, with local residents calling  the information gathering “flawed”.

The EPA and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality presented their initial findings of the contamination on the former mill site a few weeks ago. The agencies say there’s still more testing to be done, but with a few exceptions at the center of the mill, EPA say most of the samples aren’t showing high risk, although there’s manganese and cobalt that could be impacting groundwater.

However, in formal comments submitted a couple of weeks ago, the Smurfit Stone Community Advisory Group says the EPA’s testing model doesn’t adequately consider the environmental impacts from land fill dumps and sludge ponds, and the future impacts that could be caused by flooding and erosion into the adjacent Clark Fork River.

The “CAG” members say testing shouldn’t be done on a “grid” pattern, but by taking more targeted samples.

The Community Action Group also says the EPA’s testing for biological and and ecological sampling is too “narrowly focused”, and needs to do more to analyze human health risks, especially from fish consumption.

EPA and state officials are discussing the testing during a meeting that starts at 5:30 this evening in the Frenchtown fire hall that is open to the public.