Skip Navigation Links



    Learn More     Subscribe    
Join Now!      Login
Medicial Mistakes Quiz
How many people each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death after a hospital visit?
ealthy News Service: EPA Walking Away from Nation's Largest Superfund Site

EPA Walking Away from Nation's Largest Superfund Site

by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - 8/18/2005

Back to Healthy News

Deal With BP/ARCO Will Leave Butte Contaminated for Centuries

Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is prepared to walk away from the nation’s largest Superfund site, located in Butte, Montana, according to a report issued today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, millions of cubic yards of mine tailings, smelting slag and other wastes will drain in perpetuity into the headwaters of the Clark Fork and Columbia Rivers, thus relegating the Butte-Silver Bow area into an industrial dead zone with dim economic prospects.

The Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit site covers five square miles, making it the nation’s largest Superfund site. The site lies in the upper Silver Bow Creek valley, immediately west of the continental divide, and has for generations received massive amounts of smelter waste. The site also contains the historic city of Butte, the nation’s second largest National Historic Landmark District.

Under the pending arrangement, EPA is poised to make a formal finding of “Technical Impracticability” that the tailings and other wastes cannot be feasibly removed and therefore the aquifer on which is sits must be sacrificed. This EPA finding will allow the responsible party, Atlantic Richfield Company (now British Petroleum/ARCO), to walk away without fully cleaning up the site.

EPA’s decision is severely criticized in the PEER white paper, entitled Cut and Run and written by geologists, hydrologists, hydrogeologists, soil scientists, and engineers who have worked extensively with mine waste characterization and reclamation in western Montana. These professionals critique the science behind the decision to leave the tailings in place and detail the long-term consequences of that decision.

Cut and Run argues that, contrary to its own procedures, EPA is making this Technical Impracticability finding without proper characterization of the tailings and without knowing how fast the contaminant plume is growing. EPA’s lack of careful characterization not only violates its own guidelines but common sense as well:

  • Public Health Threat Looming. Leaving wastes in contact with groundwater does not protect human health and the environment in this unique and pivotal hydrologic spot;
  • Environmentally Counterproductive. EPA’s plan puts all the reclamation work performed downstream from the headwaters at risk of recontamination or failure; and
  • Economically Devastating. Deferring cleanup indefinitely will impede Butte’s economic future.

“EPA’s plan to let the site be cleaned over geologic time condemns Butte to centuries of contamination,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the nomination of Susan Bodine to head EPA’s Superfund Program is still pending before the U.S. Senate. “EPA is doing BP/ARCO a huge favor that will save the company shareholders millions and leave taxpayers holding the bag.”

Add your comment      
Provided by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on 8/18/2005

Share   Facebook   Buzz   Delicious   Digg   Twitter  
From Our Sponsor
Featured Events
Wellness Inventory Certification Training
     September 16-December 16, 2014
     Teleclass, CA USA
Additional Calendar Links
Wellness, Transcending, dimension!

Home       Wellness       Health A-Z       Alternative Therapies       Find a Practitioner       Healthy Products       Bookstore       Wellness Inventory
Healthy Kitchen       Healthy Woman       Healthy Man       Healthy Child       Healthy Aging       Wellness Center       Nutrition Center       Fitness Center
Free Newsletter      What Doctor's Don't Tell You      Discount Lab Tests      First Aid      Global Health Calendar      Privacy Policy     Contact Us

Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.