BUTTE – The first hearing for the plan to clean up mining contamination in the heart of Butte since a portion of a confidentiality order was lifted was held Wednesday.
Officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Atlantic-Richfield, Butte and the state released details about the remediation plan for the Butte Priority Soils area.
“Clearly there’s a lot of work left to do. There’s a lot of comments we need from you. But what you see is our best foot,” said Dan Villa, a representative for Governor Steve Bullock’s Office.
The panel released broad-stroke details for nine areas in Butte that include the removal of buried mine waste and other environmental improvements over the next few years. After the presentation, the panel took several questions from the audience, which was the first time in years specifics about the plan could be made public.
“Big improvement, I mean, lifting the gag order, even partial, we can actually comment on real plans and they have to respond to them,” said Evan Barrett of Butte.
While citizens are happy with the cleanup, many expressed concerns whether this plan will address the restoration of the Silver Bow Creek area, so that in the future it will be a healthy waterway for the citizens to use.
“I don’t think we are that confident at this point that there is a plan that will provide for the creek, I think we have a lot more questions we need to ask the EPA and the other agencies and ARCO that are involved with that,” said Jocelyn Dodge of the Save Our Creek Coalition in Butte.
Concerned citizen Fritz Daily of Butte added, “If we cannot establish a beautiful, meandering creek flowing through this town where children can play and fish and adults can enjoy the amenities of that clean up as well, you have all failed, every one of you has failed.”
The panel has until this fall to successfully come up with a final plan. There will be more public hearings planned throughout the summer and a finalized consent decree will be completed by the end of the year.