April 14, 2006

CFRTAC advisors have been busy poring through newly-released draft planning documents for the start of the Milltown Reservoir cleanup. Now available are CFRTAC summaries of the site access and control plan and contingency plans for protecting groundwater and surface water.

The site access control plan (PDF) describes how Envirocon will prevent entry of unauthorized people to the Milltown construction site, including closure of portions of the Blackfoot River and Clark Fork River near the dam. Closure of the reservoir site and the rivers is necessary to protect the health and safety of the general public and to secure site facilities from vandalism and theft. Closure of most of the site, including the rivers, will begin in late 2006 or early 2007.

The groundwater contingency plan (PDF) spells out the actions that Envirocon would either take or consider if arsenic rises above drinking water standards in private or public supply wells, or if arsenic exceeds trigger values in early warning monitoring wells. Please note that this is a draft document that could change before the final version is accepted. It is expected that lowering water levels in the reservoir will decrease the extent of the arsenic plume, but nonetheless, the contingency plan spells out the actions that would be taken, and the possible changes to construction practices that could be used, if contamination were to spread.

The surface water contingency plan (PDF) details the steps that Envirocon would either take or consider if suspended sediment, dissolved arsenic, or dissolved metals were to increase above the warning limits established for temporary construction-related water quality standards in the Clark Fork River. For the most part, warning limits are 80 percent of the standard, which is based on aquatic life criteria for dissolved metals, and the drinking water standard for dissolved arsenic.

Instructions on how to access the full documents are available here. The documents were discussed at the next Milltown Design Review Team meeting on April 18. Check out CFRTAC’s comments (PDF) to the EPA on the plans.

April 13, 2006

Interested in the latest on the Milltown Superfund cleanup? Do you have a burning question or comment?

Come to the River City Grill on April 17, between 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to talk about the cleanup, restoration and redevelopment of the Milltown Reservoir site with technical advisors from the Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee (CFRTAC) and other invited speakers.

The format is open but possible topics include:

* Updates on the spring drawdown of the reservoir.
* Overview of recent planning efforts, including site access control, groundwater contingency plans and community health and safety concerns.
* The latest on redevelopment efforts, including the proposed community council and planning for new trails and a pedestrian bridge in the Bonner-Milltown area.

The meeting will be the first of a series of drop-in, informal discussions, titled Milltown Mondays, held on the third Monday of each month. The next meeting will be May 15, followed by another on June 19.

For more information, call CFRTAC at 541-8099 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

April 11, 2006

With a Record of Decision now more than two years old, some residents in the Deer Lodge Valley are losing their patience waiting for work to start on the cleanup of the upper Clark Fork River, reports the Missoulian. “We thought that since the Record of Decision was signed, things would have been started by now,” said Kathy Hadley, a valley resident and president of the CFRTAC board. Hadley and her husband Wayne were instrumental in getting the river section listed as a Superfund site. “I’d show them the map and point to that thin little blue line that connected Butte with Milltown,” Hadley said. “I told them they’d forgotten the Clark Fork River.”

That listing came in the 1980s. “It’s been 20 years and they still haven’t turned a spade,” Hadley said. Since the 2004 record of decision, the project has been at a standstill while the EPA, state of Montana and ARCO wrangle over the legal and financial details to be resolved in the consent decree, which is expected later this year.

“The only certainty is whatever time frame they give you, they won’t make it,” Hadley told the Missoulian.

April 11, 2006

The Missoulian reports on the Clark Fork Coalition’s ranch in the Deer Lodge Valley, where it says the EPA will be welcome to start work on the cleanup. “We’ll have some more standing with the agencies when it comes to the cleanup on this piece of ground because it’s ours,” said coalition director Tracy Stone- Manning. “We’re going to know firsthand how the cleanup affects ag operations.” The 2300-acre ranch, purchased last summer, also explores new approaches to ranching, such raising new breeds of cattle and direct marketing grass-fed beef. “When we’re trying to tell people that you can have cows and a river cleanup too, we decided we’d make darn sure we’re right,” said Stone-Manning.

April 11, 2006

After 98 years, 2 months and 29 days, the Milltown Dam generators have shut down, reports the Missoulian. As of yesterday, the authority over the dam moves from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency that will oversee the dam’s removal along with more than two million cubic yards of toxic sediment.

The occasion proved bittersweet for some Northwestern Energy workers. “It’s been such a long process to get to this point,” Claudia Rapkoch, NorthWestern’s spokeswoman said. “The feelings are a little mixed. Obviously, we’ve worked hard to get to this point … but what gets lost, especially from the employee’s standpoint, is there’s a history here and a bit of sentimental value.”

The reservoir is slated for a June drawdown, with project construction anticipated this fall.

April 5, 2006

In anticipation of a June drawdown of the Milltown Reservoir, Envirocon, the project contractor, has been releasing a spate of planning documents for the effort. The latest are plans for limiting access to the project site during the construction and a contingency plan on what to do if irrigation intakes get plugged downriver. Also, a report examining what the state and federal governments intend to do to protect the bridges over the Blackfoot River is available on Envirocon’s public FTP website.

Next up for release will be contingency plans for surface and groundwater issues.

CFRTAC technical advisors are reviewing the documents and should have summaries posted to this site in the near future. The Milltown Design Review Team (PDF) will meet April 18 in Missoula. CFRTAC will likely schedule a public meeting in Milltown before that date.

To access the documents (and be warned you’ll need a high speed connection as some of these files are large) click on the following link ftp://public:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ and an ftp session should open in your Internet browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc).

1. You should see a variety of folders. Open the appropriate folder and a PDF file containing the complete plan will appear.
2. Drag and drop the file from the ftp window to your desktop (or other directory where you would like the files to reside) and allow it to download to your computer.
3. Do not attempt to open the file directly from the ftp window.

If you have any problems downloading these files call Zac Collins in EMC2’s Bozeman office at 406-522-0251 for technical support.

April 5, 2006

The Associated Press reports in the Missoulian that roughly a century of power production will end as the generators shut down this Friday, April 7. The shutdown of the dam’s generators, which produced less than two megawatts of electricity, marks yet another step toward the start of work at the Milltown Reservoir Superfund site. Members of the history and heritage committee of the Milltown Redevelopment Working Group will be on hand to record the event for posterity. Some of the facility’s equipment is slated to be turned over to the working group for possible use in the proposed interpretive center.

April 05, 2006

The Great Falls Tribune website features a gallery, titled A River Reborn: Removing a dam in 12 difficult steps, that illustrates the step-by-step process required for the remediation and restoration of the Milltown Superfund site.

April 3, 2006

Envirocon recently released for review the Draft Final Remedial Action Monitoring Plan (RAMP) for the Milltown Reservoir Superfund site. The RAMP describes the general surface water and groundwater monitoring to be performed by the Envirocon and the Missoula City-County Health Department during the Milltown cleanup.

For more on the changes made to previous versions of the RAMP, as well as instructions on how to access the document, see the letter of transmittal (PDF). Or check out CFRTAC’s summary of and comments on the monitoring plan. Comments or questions, on the RAMP can be sent to Russ Forba at the EPA (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or to CFRTAC (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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