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Milltown waste repository moving toward DEQ approval, final cleanup

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Posted at 2:02 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 16:02:58-04

MISSOULA — The last repository of contaminants remaining from past industrial activity at the Bonner mill could be removed later this month once the Montana Department of Environmental Quality gives a green light.

Missoula County in August approved an agreement between Territorial Landworks and Bonner Property Development LLC to get the project moving. The county will contribute around $3 million in tax increment funds to finance the cleanup.

Eric Smart with Smart Consulting said three companies have bid on the project and all are within a competitive price range. Public comment closes on Oct. 19, after which DEQ will either approve or deny removal of the waste.

“As far as I hear, DEQ will give approval,” Smart told members of the Bonner-Milltown Community Council on Monday night. “At that point, at the end of the month, there will be a lot of trucks moving soil from Bonner to the Missoula landfill. That’s where we are right now.”

The 2.3-acre site contains around 60,000 cubic yards of soil and debris contaminated with petroleum compounds and PCBs once used at the former Stimson lumber mill.

The repository stems from cleanup work that occurred at the site in 2011. The initial cleanup netted more waste material than initially expected, and the extra waste was capped on site as a cost-saving measure at the time.

“All the material in the repository is less than 10 parts per million – 50 ppm being hazardous waste standard,” said Smart. “Most of the material is less than 0.74 ppm. All the material can go to Republic Services under their operating permit. They can take material at less than 50 ppm.”

Bonner Property Development purchased the Stimson site in 2012 and has retrofitted the former industrial site with new businesses and hundreds of new jobs, from beer production to bicycle manufacturing.

But the location of the waste repository sits at the center of the larger property, hindering further redevelopment. The repository will be cleaned to industrial standards, giving Bonner Property Development future options.

“One of the primary reasons was to get the material off the site. It does pose a threat or hazard to children and so forth that live in the adjoining homes,” said Mike Boehm, who co-owns Bonner Property Development. “It will give us additional property to further develop. At this point, we don’t have plans. We’re in the mode that if they come, we will build it.”

Missoula County has roughly $1.3 million in tax increment from the Bonner mill district, and the remaining amount will be financed. Bonner Property Development will be responsible for any cleanup costs exceeding $3 million, according to the county’s agreement.