• Identify timely, cost effective, environmentally sound, and legally defensible remedial actions needed at contaminated sites addressed under Montana's remediation laws and applicable federal requirements.
    • Assess sites and responsible or liable parties in order to require or conduct appropriate investigations and to oversee or conduct cleanup actions to restore contaminated sites to a level that prevents exposure to hazardous substances that have been released to soil, sediment, surface water, or groundwater.
    • Prioritize sites for cleanup actions by evaluating risks to public health, public safety and the environment through initial sampling, field studies, or research.
    • Facilitate and encourage timely and consistent decisions for site cleanups by developing and maintaining rules, cleanup standards, and guidance.
    • Develop and enhance voluntary cleanup programs to increase number of voluntary cleanups and streamline the voluntary cleanup process.
    • Ensure that owners/operators know processes and methods in detecting leaks and spills from underground storage units which meet compliance standards to safeguard Montana.
    • Encourage 'Green Remediation,' the practice of considering environmental impacts of remediation activities at every stage of the remedial process in order to maximize the net environmental benefit of a cleanup and the use of renewable energy systems.
  • Communicate effectively and clearly in a timely fashion with liable or responsible persons, affected parties, applicable government agencies, and the public.
    • Communicate and coordinate with other agencies, local governments, and citizens by responding to inquiries and requests for information and providing brochures to the public that explain regulatory changes or guidelines for preventing or abating hazardous or deleterious substance releases to the environment.
    • Provide for public participation in the evaluation and selection of cleanup alternatives for sites with hazardous or deleterious substance releases by holding public meetings and soliciting comments on remedial plans and reports.
    • Provide education and outreach to regulated entities through websites, onsite visits, telephone assistance, public meetings, brochures, fact sheets, and public-service announcements.
    • Provide technical and management assistance to federal agencies as appropriate conduct coordinated remedial investigations and cleanup where responsibilities overlap.
    • Ensure enforcement actions are taken when responsible parties fail to address risk and fulfill cleanup responsibilities.
    • Encourage, inform, educate, and empower professionals and regulated communities to make informed decisions that follow the State of Montana statutes and rules.
    • Increase stakeholder awareness and outreach with coordination.
  • Meet financial responsibilities, and manage records and data in a timely and effective manner.
    • Recover costs, as required, for investigation and cleanup of sites by maintaining detailed records of work completed and costs incurred for that work, and by billing the responsible parties for those costs.
    • Manage contracts and grants in accordance with applicable state and federal requirements.
    • Maintain data and geographic information systems to facilitate program management, to support design and cleanup actions, and to track active and closed sites appropriately.
    • Participate in liability allocations for sites undergoing an orphan share allocation and oversee appropriate reimbursement of private parties conducting cleanup.
    • Maintain online certification, renewal licenses and training requirements are sustained to ensure compliance with regulations as inspectors, contractors, and property owners.
  • Conduct an effective permitting program, perform inspections, and provide outreach and technical assistance with the goal to maintain compliance.


  • Characterizing the nature and extent of contamination, identifying the affected media and environmental impacts, and evaluating potential remedial alternatives and associated costs;
  • Selecting, designing, and implementing remedial actions;
  • Involving local governments and the public in selecting and implementing cleanup actions, including the development of and coordination through technical and citizens advisory committees;
  • Providing the legal framework for responsible parties to conduct cleanups with oversight from the various programs within the division.

For some sites, the WM&R Division retains independent technical experts to support the decision-making process, and engineering consultants and construction contractors to accomplish investigation, remediation, and construction work. The division works closely with the state Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board, which provides financial assistance for cleaning up petroleum-contaminated LUST sites.


Abandoned Mine Lands

McLaren Tailings: The McLaren Tailings project was completed in October 2014. The project successfully removed a potentially unstable tailings impoundment, turning a previously unusable area back to its historical landscape while cleaning up contamination in Soda Butte Creek and preserving an important fishery and the natural resources of Yellowstone National Park. The project incorporated innovative techniques to dewater the tailings impoundment, allowing safe working conditions during the excavation of the tailings below the water table, and in incorporating lime into the tailings, ensuring repository stability. Over one billion pounds of tailings were excavated, stabilized, and placed in the repository, and approximately 100 million gallons of contaminated groundwater were treated during the project. Project execution included two years of investigation and design and five years of construction work. It has been awarded an Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies and the Environmental Excellence award from the Montana Contractors Association.

Federal Superfund and Construction Services

Streamside Tailings: After 16 years of cleanup, the Silver Bow Creek/Streamside Tailings cleanup reached completion in summer 2015.

Cleanup consisted of excavation of tailings (mine waste containing heavy metals) and related impacted soils from the floodplain of Silver Bow Creek, and the reconstruction of the stream channel and floodplain, and total revegetation. 5.8 million cubic yards of tailings were hauled, or enough to fill Grizzly Stadium to the brim 21 times. The contaminated waste was hauled to Opportunity Ponds. Approximately 1,550 acres along Silver Bow Creek have been remediated and restored.

Fish surveys show that populations of Westslope cutthroat, brook trout, sculpins, and suckers have reestablished in the creek. Shrub and tree planting activities have enhanced wildlife habitat, along with a DEQ-implemented weed management program. Sightings of over 100 bird species, including bald eagles, osprey, swans, blue heron, and sandhill crane are common in the floodplain and wetland areas, as well as deer, elk, moose, beaver, muskrats, and mink.

DEQ will implement a 'final pass' cleanup before subareas are transitioned into operations and maintenance status. The final pass will address very small deposits of remaining remnant tailings-impacted soils to improve and enhance the remediation as a whole.

Clark Fork River: The Clark Fork River cleanup, Reach A, Phase 1 construction was completed on April 4, 2014. Monitoring plans for vegetation and streambanks have been developed to ensure that the remedy is successful in the long term. Construction for Phases 5 and 6 began summer 2015. The remediation project will consist of tailings removal on 4.5 river miles and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2016, with revegetation activities to follow. Construction on Phase 2 began summer 2015. The remediation project will consists of tailings removal on 1.9 river miles and is scheduled to be completed by fall 2016 with revegetation activities to follow. Sampling and design on future phases is also in the works.

Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex: Cleanup at the UBMC, also known as the Mike Horse, began in July 2014. In summer 2015, the Mike Horse Dam and the tailings behind it were removed and Beartrap Creek is flowing in the bottom of the valley for the first time in nearly 75 years. New channel is currently being built where the tailings had been. By 2017, the haul should be complete and the river restored. In 2018 the repository will have its final cover and the project will be complete.

Petroleum Technical Section

2014 Special Legislative Funding: The Montana Legislature appropriated $400,000 to the DEQ Remediation Division's Petroleum Tank Cleanup Section to help address petroleum tank sites during Fiscal Year 2014 (July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014). The money was used to closed abandoned USTs at four facilities and to conduct remediation work at 11 petroleum release sites. Releases were confirmed at all four UST closures and funding was available to assist with cleanup work at three of the sites. Other effects of the funding were renewed momentum at several release sites, it highlighted the efficiency of DEQ contractors, and it assisted in the PTRCB co-pay process.