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DEQ Updates Commissioners on Upper Clark Fork River Cleanup

February 19, 2010

Montana Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials met with Powell County Commissioners recently to discuss plans for the Superfund cleanup of the Clark Fork River set to start this summer in Deer Lodge.

The meeting focused on the Trestle Area (pictured above), where railroad trestle bridges cross the river in Deer Lodge, and where the Superfund cleanup of the upper Clark Fork River will start. The area is a priority for cleanup because of heavy foot traffic and its recreational use especially by children.

The cleanup primarily addresses human health exposure to arsenic and other mining contamination that was dispersed along the upper Clark Fork River during the flood of 1908. The contamination level in the Trestle Area is not higher than other river areas but given its use by the community, it was designated as a priority for cleanup in the Environmental Protection Agency's 2004 Record of Decision that outlines the Superfund effort.

At the February 16 meeting, the DEQ presented the commissioners with design plans for the area and discussed timelines for cleanup. Contamination along the river has made streambanks unstable. Under the cleanup plan, the state will remove about 6900 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the site and replace it with clean soil. Streambanks will be stabilized and replanted with native vegetation.

DEQ officials, Joel Chavez and Brian Bartkowiak, say they hope to finish the design, put it out to bid and have construction begun by this summer. The project should be completed by fall of this year.

Once the cleanup is complete, Powell County has plans to develop the area into a park, which will connect to its current trail and park system along the river, Arrowstone Park. It will also lead to a trail system that is being developed by Grant Kohrs Ranch National Park just north of the area.

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