May 4, 2009

Clark Fork River clean-up is scheduled to begin this year on the Trestle Area and Eastside Road in Deer Lodge. CFRTAC will play a constructive role informing and engaging the public about these remediation and restoration efforts. Last Fall, CFRTAC hosted a public educational session in Deer Lodge and we are working with EPA and DEQ to arrange another this Spring.

In March, CFRTAC met with state officials and Powell County Commissioners to discuss the upcoming Clark Fork River clean-up. DEQ explained results of Deer Lodge’s Trestle Area sampling it conducted last fall. The Trestle Area is a special concern as it will continue to see much foot traffic especially from children that use the area to cross the river to and from school each day as well as an area to play on a hot summer day. Powell County emphasized that the area will see increased recreation once a trail is built and voiced concerns about whether contamination will be unearthed. The commissioners want a permanent solution and the process to move forward. They requested a public meeting to address the Clark Fork River clean-up and announce results of Trestle sampling to the public and news media.

And while there is considerable public interest in seeing this project move forward, the effort may be stalled by disagreements between state agencies and the EPA on how to interpret the ROD and proceed with the work. CFRTAC is encouraging EPA, DEQ, and NRDP to resolve these issues in a timely fashion so as not to miss another construction season. A meeting is set for May 21, in Helena with CFRTAC convening and facilitateing these talks. One of CFRTAC’s roles in the Superfund process is to work together with the regulatory agencies.

The Clark Fork River deserves remediation to begin this year in order to continue its recovery. Delaying efforts further is unacceptable. The clean-up is long overdue. The communities and river have been living with mining contamination for over 100 years. The negotiations between EPA, ARCO and the state took over 25 years. Differences between the state and EPA must be settled so the clean-up can continue. There are areas on Eastside Road and at the Trestle that are human health hazards. To delay addressing these areas is to ignore the primary functions of these environmental agencies: protecting the health of people through protection of their environment.

 

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