Crews will repair possible flood-related problem at Smurfit berms

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-20 19:29:33-04

FRENCHTOWN – Contractors are working to repair a flood-related problem that’s developed on the river berms at the old Smurfit Stone mill site.

Authorities say the repairs are being done in hopes of stopping some groundwater "boils" that have shown up on the lagoon side of the berm furthest downstream.

Missoula County, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the property owners of the old mill site have been monitoring the berms that separate the Clark Fork River from the former cooling ponds, which are believed to contain contaminants that could cause considerable environmental damage.

County officials have told MTN News that contractors monitoring the site discovered three ot four spots along the berm that sets at the downstream edge of the mill site, where groundwater appeared to be coming to the surface.

The spots were encircled with a ring dike to contain the water. But now the owners are ordering their teams to make repairs to keep the site secure and equipment began filling the location Saturday.

County officials say it’s not a case of the berms being breached by the floodwaters, but of precaution.

"Yes. So that’s what we’re trying to avoid and what the responsible parties are trying to avoid. It’s not that that breach is imminent. I’m not qualified to say that. But it’s certainly to avoid a breach," said Missoula City-County Environmental Health Specialist Travis Ross.

The owners have been monitoring the site daily all week long and that’s expected to continue as long as the flooding persists.