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Commissioners question DEQ over Montana Pole Plant site.

What took you so long?

That's what Butte-Silver Bow Commissioner Dennis Henderson asked of the Department of Environmental Quality when the state gave a presentation and update to the commissioners on the Montana Pole Plant site.

Now that the state is almost ready to hand over the 60-acre Superfund site to Butte-Silver Bow, DEQ presented the commissioners with information about the site, which contains four contaminants of concern: pentachloraphenol--also known as PCPs - dioxins and furans and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Located off Greenwood Avenue, the site borders Silver Bow Creek south of interstates 15-90 just west of the South Montana Street exit ramp from the interstate. The former wood treating facility is a separate Superfund site from Silver Bow Creek and the Butte hill. The EPA named Montana Pole Plant a Superfund site in 1987 due to oily wood-treating fluid that leaked, spilled and dripped into the ground and the groundwater during the nearly 40 years the plant operated.

DEQ project manager Lisa DeWitt gave a presentation to the commissioners to address the future of the site and to update the commissioners on what's been done and what is left to do. A water treatment plant pumps the contaminated groundwater.

The groundwater is treated with carbon and sent to Silver Bow Creek. About 175 million gallons per year is pumped and treated. DEQ expects the groundwater will continue to need pumping and treatment for another 30 more years. The soils, however, are nearly ready for DEQ to cover with a protective cap. The agency will then hand the site over to Butte-Silver Bow for a yet-to-be-determined future use.

The size of the contaminated groundwater has decreased by more than 40 percent since treatment began, DeWitt said. About 60,000 gallons of contaminated soil have been removed.

Hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of soil have been treated on site to reduce toxicity levels. Commissioner Dan Foley said he wanted guarantees that the site would be safe in the future and if something went wrong, the county would not be liable for it. Foley's district includes the pole plant and nearby neighborhoods.

Henderson echoed that sentiment and suggested that action on the pole plant and other Superfund sites was suddenly on a fast-track because it is an election year. He said the presentation was long overdue and it was difficult for commissioners to make decisions on such technical matters without better communication.

Remediation division administrator Jenny Chambers said DEQ and the county would work together to ensure the cap's effectiveness.

Source: Susan Dunlap, Montana Standard

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Publication:Hazardous Waste Superfund Alert
Date:Mar 25, 2016
Words:423
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