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Montana residents mixed about EPA plans to eliminate state director position.

Locals disagree over whether the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to eliminate the Montana director position will help or hurt EPA cleanup efforts in Butte.

Deb Thomas, who was named the acting Montana director last fall, will continue to lead the state's office from her Denver post until the change is made.

Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, spokesperson for the Denver office, said the restructuring will likely take six months to get approval internally. Montana has had a state director in its Helena office since 1979, McClain-Vanderpool said via email.

Dave Williams, Butte, president of Citizens Technical Environmental Committee, said that group would like to see EPA maintain a state director. John Wardell was EPA's Montana director, working out of the Helena office, for 25 years.

Joe Griffin, Butte, retired Department of Environmental Quality project manager for the Butte Hill, said he sees the restructuring as a positive step. Butte-Silver Bow council of commissioners on March 9 during which he said Martin Hestmark, assistant regional administrator at Region 8 headquarters, should have more administrative oversight of the Montana office. Griffin hopes the structural change could lead to that.

The decision to eliminate the position was made in January. McClain-Vanderpool said the new structure will directly align the Montana office with how other states in Region 8 operate. Senior management administrators in the Denver office directly lead environmental work in the five other states in Region 8.

Region 8 oversees Montana, both the Dakotas, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

McClain-Vanderpool said there are 16 Superfund sites in Montana with additional three proposed sites. The state does not have the most Superfund sites within Region 8. Colorado has had 23--which includes three that have been closed. Utah has had up to 25 Superfund sites, which also includes five completed sites. However, due to the size of the Butte Hill and Silver Bow Creek Superfund sites, along with Anaconda's Superfund site, Montana has one of the largest Superfund sites in the country.

Source: Susan Dunlap, Montana Standard

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Publication:Hazardous Waste Superfund Alert
Geographic Code:1U8MT
Date:Mar 25, 2016
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