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Government shutdown could delay Butte Superfund cleanup plans

Posted at 9:39 AM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 12:59:05-05

BUTTE – The longest federal government shutdown in American history is affecting Superfund cleanup progress in Butte since all EPA officials have been off the clock for more than three weeks.

Butte Superfund Coordinator Jon Sesso said the shutdown prevents further action on finalizing Butte’s cleanup plan.

“We can’t really get anything done in terms of advancing the ball on consent decree negotiations without the EPA involved, so we’ll wait for them to get back to work before we resume our conversations,” said Sesso.

State, city and Atlantic Richfield officials are able to continue work, but they need the US Environmental Protection Agency, which is in charge of approving the cleanup projects.

Sesso does not believe cleanup will be delayed unless the shutdown drags on into the spring, “then there’s a likelihood that 2019 construction projects might be delayed, but it’s hard to say.”

Superfund projects already underway, like the parrot tailings removal off of Civic Center Road, are going to be closed down during the winter months anyway, and Sesso assured the public that the progress of Superfund cleanup in Butte will not be hampered by the government shutdown.

“The O&M Maintenance guys are out there repairing our stormwater systems and getting our equipment ready for the spring and the residential medals program, the attic cleanups are ongoing. Hopefully, there won’t be too much more delay and we can keep rolling toward getting a consent decree done in the springtime,” he said.

But the consent decree will have to wait until the EPA gets back to work. A Superfund meeting scheduled for this week in Butte had to be postponed due to the shutdown.

-John Emeigh reporting for MTN News