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Opportunity lawsuit against ARCO hits a snag

Posted: 9:56 AM, Oct 11, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-11 14:09:08-04

OPPORTUNITY – Residents in Opportunity, outside of Anaconda, are not going to get their day in court — at least not any time soon.

The small community will have to wait on its big lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Company over contamination cleanup.

A lawsuit that’s been a decade in the making has reached another snag.

The Opportunity residents involved in this suit were expected to have a jury trial in Butte on this matter at the end of October.

However, the Atlantic Richfield Company was successful in having that trial delayed while the case gets heard in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are suing the Atlantic Richfield Company, claiming that it needs to do more remediation work to clean up the contamination in the soil.

The groundwater and soil in Opportunity was contaminated by arsenic and other heavy metals due to century’s worth of pollution that was spewed by the Anaconda smelter.

MTN News spoke with some longtime Opportunity residents — who are not a part of the lawsuit — and they say they’re not too concerned about the contamination in the soil.

Ricardo Garcia: When the smelter was running I believe it was contaminated, but like now, I think it’s a lot more clearer; cleaner water, and I don’t think we have a much contamination,” Ricardo Garcia said.

Don Wyant has lived in Opportunity since the 1950s and he says he’s had no health problems, “yeah, I’ll be 91 in December, so I’m really worried. And I’ve put in 32 years for the Anaconda Company.”

The two Opportunity residents say the latest developments in this lawsuit doesn’t look too good for the plaintiffs.

“They’re just dragging it out, they’ll probably drag it out for another 20 years, you know,” Garcia concluded.

-John Emeigh reporting for MTN News