Montana Department of Environmental Quality About Us Permitting & Operator Assistance Public Participation

Federal Superfund

Program Overview

Federal National Priority List (NPL) Site Map

Z_20180417_FSS_Sites_Web (002)

The Federal Superfund and Construction Bureau consults with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 on National Priorities List (NPL) sites and is typically the support agency overseeing the implementation of the remedial process.  We provide technical and management assistance to EPA to support the remedial actions and agency decisions at NPL sites and work cooperatively with all other agency partners, local stakeholders and the public to keep them informed during the Superfund process.  Montana DEQ’s activities are usually funded through cooperative agreements with EPA or settlement funds. 

Contacts

Federal Superfund

Main Number
(406) 444-6795


DEQ Program Support
Joann Wiggins (406) 444-6795

DEQ Federal Superfund Supervisor
Carolina Balliew (406) 444-0214

 

List of Sites

The following is a list of sites that the Federal Superfund and Construction Bureau is currently working on. The final column is the Project Manager contact information for Montana DEQ Remediation. The Project Manager oversees the work being done alongside the EPA. The second table contains information about the Black Pine Mining Site, the Stimson-Bonner Mill Site, and the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex, all of which are non-NPL sites but are under the Construction portion of the Bureau.

EPA Superfund Cleanup Process

Site Name Short Name Site Location CERCLA/ EPA ID Lead DEQ Project Manager
ACM Smelter & Refinery NPC ACMSRNPC Great Falls MTD093291599 EPA Dick Sloan
Anaconda Smelter Site ACSS Anaconda MTD093291656 EPA Joel Chavez
Barker Hughesville Mining District BHMD Monarch MTD612230748 EPA Keith Large
Basin Creek Mine BCM Basin MTD982572562 MT DEQ Joel Chavez
Basin Mining Area BMA Basin MTD982572562 EPA Dick Sloan
Billings PCE BPCE Billings Proposed-NPL Site EPA Jason Rappe
Burlington Northern Somers BNS Somers Non-NPL Site EPA Dick Sloan
Butte Mine Flooding BMF Butte MTD980502777 EPA Daryl Reed
Butte Priority Soils BPS Butte MTD980502777 EPA Daryl Reed
Carpenter-Snow Creek Mining District CSCMD Neihart MT0001096353 EPA Keith Large
Clark Fork River CFR Opportunity to Milltown MTD980717565 MT DEQ Joel Chavez
Columbia Falls Aluminum Reduction Plant CFAC Columbia Falls MTD057561763 EPA Dick Sloan
East Helena Smelter Site EHS East Helena MTD006230346 EPA Daryl Reed
Flat Creek IMM Site FCIMM Superior MT0012694970 EPA Daryl Reed
Frenchtown Mill (Smurfitt Stone)   Missoula Pre-Listing EPA Keith Large
Idaho Pole Co. IDPC Bozeman MTD006232276 EPA Keith Large
Libby Asbestos LA Libby MTD009083840 EPA Jason Rappe
Libby Ground Water Contamination LGWC Libby MTD980502736 EPA Jason Rappe
Lockwood Solvent Groundwater Plume Site LSGWP Billings MT0007623052 EPA Dick Sloan
Milltown Reservoir Sediments MRS Milltown MTD980717565 EPA Keith Large
Montana Pole and Treating Plant MTPOLE Butte MTD006230635 MT DEQ David Bowers
Mouat Industries MI Columbus MTD021997689 EPA Daryl Reed
Rocker ROCKER Rocker MTD980502777 EPA Daryl Reed
Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area Stream Side Tailings SST Butte-Anaconda MTD980502777 MT DEQ Joel Chavez
Upper Tenmile Creek Mining Area UTCMA Helena, Rimini MTSFN7578012 EPA Dick Sloan
Warm Springs Ponds WSP Warm Springs MTD980502777 EPA Daryl Reed

Non-NPL Construction Sites

Project Site Name Short Name Site Location Program MT DEQ Lead Partners FSB Project Manager
Black Pine Mine BPM Philipsburg Construction Services MT DEQ USFS Ben Quinones
Stimson-Bonner Mill PCB Site SBM Bonner State Superfund MT DEQ EPA/MT NRD Keith Large
Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex UBMC or Mike Horse Lincoln State Superfund MT DEQ USFS/MT NRD David Bowers

Specific Project Information

Clark Fork River Operable Unit

The heavy metals (Cadmium, Copper, Zinc, and Lead) and arsenic in the Clark Fork River are from historic mining, milling and smelting processes linked to the Anaconda Company operations in Butte and Anaconda. The majority of the cleanup will occur along a 43-mile stretch of the river from Warm Springs in Anaconda/Deer Lodge County downstream to Garrison in Powell County. This is known as “Reach A.”

The Clark Fork River Operable Unit (CFR OU) is part of the Milltown Reservoir/Clark Fork River Superfund Site. The CFR OU includes the Clark Fork River from its headwaters near Warm Springs Creek to Milltown Reservoir, just east of Missoula.The primary sources of contamination are tailings mixed with soil in the streambanks and historic floodplain. These sources threaten human health and animal and plant life. The 2004 Record of Decision describes the cleanup approach, or Selected Remedy. In addition to the ROD, the NRDP developed a Restoration Plan to expedite the recovery time for injured aquatic and terrestrial resources in and along the Clark Fork River. To the extent practicable, the Restoration Plan will be combined with the Remedy to maximize the use of resources. The 2004 Record of Decision describes the cleanup approach, or Selected Remedy.

In 2008, 25 years after the state sued the Atlantic Richfield Co. for damage to natural resources, a settlement was reached and a federal judge signed the consent decree. The state received $123 million from ARCO for cleanup and restoration of mining pollution in the Clark Fork River Operable Unit.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Montana Department of Justice, Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP), with additional oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Parks Service (NPS) (for cleanup activities at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch operated by NPS) work collaboratively to design the remediation and restoration work.

In addition to the ROD, the NRDP developed a Restoration Plan to expedite the recovery time for injured aquatic and terrestrial resources in and along the Clark Fork River. To the extent practicable, the Restoration Plan will be combined with the Remedy to maximize the use of resources.

For updates, please join our email list: CFR Email Subscription

Annual Monitoring Reports

2019 Annual Monitoring Report

2018 Annual Monitoring Report

2017 Annual Monitoring Report 

2016 Annual Monitoring Report 

2015 Annual Monitoring Report 

2014 Annual Monitoring Report 

2013 Annual Monitoring Report 

2012 Annual Monitoring Report 

2011 Annual Monitoring Report 


Phase 3 and 4 Documents and Plans

Phase 3 and 4 Draft Preliminary Design Report

Phase 3 and 4 Drawings

Draft Data Summary Report  May 2015

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix A

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix B

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix C, Part One

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix C, Part Two

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix D

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix E

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix F

Phase 3 and 4 Appendix G

Figures

Tables


Other Documents

CFR Cleanup Fast Facts

2017 Community Involvement Plan- Summary

2017 Community Involvement Plan- Full Document

2010 to 2017 Weed Control Summary Report

Explanation of Significant Difference June 2015

2008 Consent Decree (State CD 1)

2008 Clark Fork River Consent Decree (State CD 2)


2004 Record of Decision

Part 1: Declaration

Part 2: Decision Summary

Part 3: Responsiveness Summary

Part 4: Acronyms, Abbreviations & References

Appendix A: Indentification & Description of Applicable or Relevant & Appropriate Requirements

Appendix B: Streambank Stabilization Design Consideration & Examples

Appendix C: BMPs & Riparian Management Plan Considerations

Appendix D: Weed Prevention & Management Planning Information

Appendix E: Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Appendix F: Concurrence Letter from the State of Montana


 

Name Position Email Phone Number

Joel Chavez

DEQ Project Manager

jchavez@mt.gov

406-444-6407

Kevin Stone

Public Information Specialist

Kevin.Stone@mt.gov

406-438-2446

Libby Asbestos

Libby Asbestos Site Overview and Updates 

Federal Superfund sites in and around Libby, Montana include the Libby Asbestos site and the Libby Groundwater site.  The Libby Asbestos Site is located in Libby and Troy in Lincoln County (see figure below). In the early 1920s, the Zonolite Company began vermiculite ore mining operations in Libby. Vermiculite from the Libby mine, bought by W.R. Grace in 1963, was contaminated with a toxic and highly friable form of asbestos called tremolite-actinolite series asbestos (often called Libby Amphibole asbestos or “LA”).   The site has been divided into eight Operable Units (OU), as shown in the table below, to facilitate addressing contamination issues. 

 Libby Operable Units

Operable Unit Description Status

OU1

Riverfront Part (former Export Plant)

Remedial action complete. O&M ongoing. Partial deletion in 2020.

OU2

Former Screening Plant 

Remedial action complete.  O&M ongoing.  Partial deletion in 2019. 

OU3

Former W.R. Grace Mine 

Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study underway.

OU4

Residential/commercial properties in Libby 

Remedial action complete. Transitioned to Operation & Maintenance in 2020. 

OU5

Lincoln County Port Authority (former Stimson Lumber Mill) 

Remedial action complete. O&M ongoing. 

OU6

BNSF Railroad Corridor 

Remedial action complete.  Consent Decree entered November 2020 for any additional work remaining. 

OU7

Residential/commercial properties in Troy 

Remedial action complete. Transitioned to Operation & Maintenance in 2020. 

OU8

Highways/Roadways 

Remedial action complete.  O&M ongoing. Proposed partial deletion to be final in 2020. 

About LASOC

In 2017, the 65th Montana Legislature passed Senate Bill 315, which was signed into law by Governor Bullock and established a Libby Asbestos Superfund Advisory Team attached to DEQ for administrative purposes. The Advisory Team was created to enhance communication with stakeholders. In addition, the Advisory Team advises DEQ on administration of the Libby Asbestos Cleanup Trust Fund and operation and maintenance accounts. The bill also established a full-time employee as the Libby Asbestos Superfund Liaison who will perform duties recommended by the team and facilitate the required quarterly Advisory Team meetings.

Subject to appropriation by the Legislature, money deposited in a state special revenue account must be used to fund cleanup and long-term operation and maintenance costs at the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site, and administrative costs of the Advisory Team and Libby Asbestos Superfund Liaison.

Libby Asbestos Superfund Oversight Committee Members

Legislation

LASOC Final Bylaws February 2020


Upcoming Meeting Information

Libby Asbestos Superfund Oversight Committee

When:  June 22, 2021  at 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Where: Virtual Meeting 

 

To attend by phone or online:

By Go To Meeting:  https://www.gotomeet.me/LCARP59923/june-2021-lasoc

By Phone: 1 (646) 749-3122

Conference ID Number: 516-940-597


Agendas and Meeting Materials

June 22, 2021 Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda

March 12, 2021 Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda

December 17, 2020 Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda

September 24, 2020 Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda

May 26, 2020 Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda

February 10, 2020 Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda

December 17, 2019 Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda

September 19, 2019 Oversight Committee Meeting

August 12, 2019 Oversight Committee Meeting

August 2, 2019 Oversight Committee Meeting

June 24, 2019 Libby Oversight Committee Meeting

March 26, 2019 Libby  Advisory Team Meeting Agenda

December 19, 2018 Libby Advisory Team Meeting Agenda

September 7, 2018 Libby Advisory Team Meeting Agenda

June 28, 2018 Libby Advisory Team Meeting Agenda

March 8, 2018 Libby Advisory Team Meeting Agenda

December 18, 2017 Libby Advisory Team Meeting Agenda 

September 21, 2017 Libby Advisory Team Meeting 


Meeting Minutes

December 17, 2020 Meeting Minutes Approved

September 24, 2020 Meeting Minutes Approved

May 26, 2020 Meeting Minutes Approved

February 10, 2020 Meeting Minutes Approved

December 17, 2019 Meeting Minutes Approved

September 19, 2019 Meeting Minutes Approved

August 12, 2019 Meeting Minutes Approved

August 2, 2019 Meeting Minutes Approved

June 24, 2019 Meeting Minutes Approved

March 26, 2019 Meeting Minutes Approved

December 19, 2018 Meeting Minutes Approved

September 7, 2018 Meeting Minutes Approved

June 28, 2018 Meeting Minutes Approved

March 8, 2018 Meeting Minutes Approved

December 18, 2017 Meeting Minutes Approved

September 21, 2017 Meeting Minutes Approved


Meeting Memos

September 29, 2020 Interim Recommendations for LASOC


For More Information:

Joann Wiggins Meeting Inquiries (406) 444-6795
Carolina Balliew Section Supervisor (406) 444-0214
Moira Davin Public Information Specialist (406) 444-6360
Name Position Email Phone Number

Jason Rappe

DEQ Project Officer

Jason.Rappe@mt.gov

(406) 444-6802

Moira Davin

DEQ Public Information Specialist

Moira.Davin@mt.gov

(406) 444-6360

Virginia Kocieda

Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program

VKocieda@libby.org

(406) 283-2446

Beth Archer

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator

Archer.Elizabeth@epa.gov

(303) 312-6611

Dania Zinner

EPA Remedial Project Manager

Zinner.Dania@epa.gov

(303) 312-7122

Montana Pole and Treating Plant

DEQ released the final Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) for the Montana Pole. See documents section below for both the final ESD and responsiveness summary.  The ESD proposes changes to the original cleanup plan to make the site more protective of human health and the environment. Now that the ESD is complete and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), construction can begin this summer on the final cleanup for the south side of the site allowing for future redevelopment.

Construction for remediation cleanup will include placing the treated soils in an onsite designated capped area called a Corrective Action Management Unit (CAMU). The new cleanup levels will allow for commercial and industrial redevelopment for 27 acres of the site. The remaining 9 acres is the site of the CAMU, which will be comprised of the treated soils area and additional soils removed to achieve the new cleanup levels. The operation and maintenance of the CAMU will be overseen by the state to ensure protectiveness and will have regular Five Year Reviews. Five Year Reviews are a standard process required whenever contamination is safely left onsite. The reviews make sure the site remains protective.     

Documents & Reports 

Date

Dioxins and Protecting Your Health April 2021
Final Explanation of Significant Differences March 2021
Final Responsiveness Summary March 2021
Explanation of Significant Differences-Summary February 2020

Draft ESD Administrative Record

February 2020
Revised Final Baseline RA 1993
November 2018 Site Update November 2018
October 2018 Site Update October 2018

 

Fact Sheets

March 2021
October 2020
April 2016
October 2014
June 2013
March 2011
April 2010
MT Pole Historic MT Pole MT POLE
Former log storage area.
Aerial view of the southern portion of the site.
Land treatment unit.
Name Position Email Phone Number

Dave Bowers

DEQ Project Manager

DBowers@mt.gov

(406) 444-6335

Allie Archer

EPA Project Manager

Archer.Allie@mt.gov

(406) 457-5033

Moira Davin

DEQ Public Information Specialist

Moira.Davin@mt.gov

(406) 444-6360

Silver Bow Creek / Butte Area Stream Side Tailings

 Silver Bow Creek map

Interactive Story Map

The cleanup of Silver Bow Creek has been ongoing since 1999 as part of a Superfund remedial action being coordinated by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2000, the Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) of the Montana Department of Justice formed a partnership with DEQ, bringing a restoration component to the project that goes beyond remediation required under Superfund. Provided below is a brief history of the project, updates regarding the current status of the project, and descriptions of activities planned in future years.

Silver Bow Creek extends from Butte approximately 23 miles to the Warm Springs Ponds, a water treatment facility located at the headwaters of the Clark Fork River (see corridor map). Since the late 1800s, tailings and other mine wastes containing elevated concentrations of metals have been discharged to or otherwise entered Silver Bow Creek. These toxic discharges impacted the stream and floodplain with heavy metals and virtually eliminated aquatic life in the stream. Tailings deposited in the floodplain are toxic to plants and have resulted in a floodplain that is largely devoid of vegetation and is generally incapable of supporting wildlife. In 1983, EPA listed the Silver Bow Creek/Butte area as one of multiple Superfund sites in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin. The agency later designated the approximately 23 stream miles of streamside tailings along Silver Bow Creek as an operable unit (OU) within this overall Superfund site. The Streamside Tailings Operable Unit (SSTOU) has become one of the areas of focus for Superfund cleanup in the Butte area. Initially, EPA named ARCO as the primary party responsible for remediation of the SSTOU and other Superfund sites in the Upper Clark Fork Basin through its acquisition of the Anaconda Company. EPA and DEQ issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the site in November 1995 that identifies the final site remedy and the agencies' rationale for selecting that remedy. The major remedial action that resulted from issuance of the ROD is excavation of tailings and related impacted soils from the floodplain of Silver Bow Creek and reconstruction of the stream channel and floodplain. For planning purposes, the SSTOU was divided into four subareas, each with a distinct geologic and geographic character.

The Natural Resources Damage Program (NRDP) Connection. In a 1999 state, federal and tribal settlement, ARCO agreed to pay $215 million to the State to resolve certain claims. From the settlement amount, $80 million plus interest was set aside for DEQ and EPA to implement the remedy for Silver Bow Creek. Some of the remaining amount is being used to enhance the cleanup of Silver Bow Creek through various habitat improvements and restoration actions. DEQ and EPA are coordinating the cleanup of the Silver Bow Creek remedy with NRDP.

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.

osprey

Ospray and its Fish

Photo taken by Don MacGee.
Summer of 2011.


Picture of boy with trout

Young Angler, Rye Vincent

Rye Vincent is holding an 18.5 inch cutthroat trout catch from Silver Bow Creek just below Miles Crossing bridge.
Summer of 2010.


2009 mink return to SBC

The Mink Return

This mink was seen along Silver Bow Creek in September 2009.

Mink prey on fish so the presence of mink indicates a return of fish to the stream.

 

Name Position Email Phone Number

Joel Chavez

DEQ Project Officer

JChavez@mt.gov

(406) 444-6407

Ken Champagne

EPA Project Manager

champagne.kenneth@epa.gov

(406) 457-5025

Non-NPL Construction Sites

Black Pine Mine

PHOTO needs to be transferred

The Black Pine Mine (BPM/Site) is an inactive silver mine located 10 miles northwest of Philipsburg in Granite County. The BPM complex includes 1,056 acres of patented mining claims and 150 unpatented lode claims. It is surrounded by lands administered by the US Forest Service. Approximately 400,000 CY of metals-impacted wastes are estimated to be present at, and down gradient of the Site. The impacted wastes include waste rock, tailings, and metals impacted soils and sediments.

The BPM is one of five sites in Montana that was owned and operated by ASARCO, until their bankruptcy filing in August 2005. In December 2009, $17.3 million was allocated to the BPM for environmental actions at the Site. DEQ was appointed as the lead agency for the reclamation. These funds are being managed by the Montana Environmental Trust Group, LLC (METG), Trustee for the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust.

DEQ performed a site characterization to investigate the nature and extent of contamination associated with mining and milling waste at the Site. Based on the results of the site characterization, reclamation alternatives are being evaluated to address human health and ecological risk.  

Attention Contractors

To be considered during an invitation for bid, a contractor must meet several criteria, including but not limited to being bonded and insured, a registered contractor with the State of Montana and trained (40 hours) in emergency hazardous waste operations (HAZWOPER). The DEQ will develop designs for various stages of the work. When the design is complete, the project will be put out for construction bid on the DEQ website at www.deq.mt.gov. The DEQ will respond to questions and hold a pre-bid conference. Bids are sealed and opened at once in public. The DEQ selects the lowest responsible bidder.

 
Name Position Email Phone Number

Ben Quinones

DEQ Project Manager

bequinones@mt.gov

406-444-6593

Sonny Thornborrow

Project Manager

sthornborrow@fs.fed.us

406-494-0202

Stimson-Bonner Mill PCB

The Bonner Mill Cooling Pond cleanup project is located in Bonner, Montana, along the Blackfoot River. In the early 1880s, the first logs were cut at the Bonner mill site and shipped to the mining operations in Butte. Over time, the Bonner mill site owners built and operated a “cooling pond,” which actually extended out into the Blackfoot River. In 2006, DEQ discovered contaminants (PCB) in the sediments of the cooling pond. The Department of Natural Resources & Conservation determined that because of the removal of the Bonner and Milltown dams immediately downstream from the cooling pond area, the berm of the cooling pond would fail during the next 100-year high flow flood, washing the PCBs downstream. Working with DEQ, Stimson Lumber entered into an Administrative Order of Consent in 2010 to remove the PCB contaminated areas threatening the Blackfoot River. Between September 2010 and April 2016, contaminated soils and debris was removed from the site and shipped to landills or an on-site repository; the river was restored and no longer does a threat from PCBs exist from areas it once did. This webpage provides links to public fact sheets and updates throughout the life of the project.

 

No public input received on a Draft Plan to Remove Wastes at the Bonner Mill Site Repository located in Missoula, MT

 

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requested public input on a draft plan submitted by Bonner Property Development, the current landowner of the site, to remove waste at the Bonner Mill Site Repository and dispose of the waste at the Republic Landfill located in Missoula, MT.   Currently, the repository is performing as designed and remains protective of human health and the environment.  DEQ is not requiring any party to remove or alter the repository. DEQ has not approved any amendment or modification to the current restrictive covenants at the site. Public input was accepted until 5:00 p.m. on October 9, 2020. DEQ received no public input. 

 

With the close of a request for public input, DEQ is currently reviewing the plan. DEQ’s review of the submitted draft plan will ensure that the proposed work will not conflict with ongoing work at the facility and that the work conducted will not spread, worsen, or otherwise exacerbate the PCB contamination. DEQ will review the plan to guarantee that all other relevant factors are considered for protectiveness of human health and the environment and that wastes are disposed of in a permitted landfill. If appropriate after such on-going review, DEQ may require revisions and additional information or approve a detailed work plan outlining the proposed work.

 

The draft plan documents are part of the administrative record.  Site documents may be requested here: https://montanadeq.govqa.us/WEBAPP/_rs/(S(iv3hbh02ft3pfjbr2m144mfq))/supporthome.aspx

 

 
Name Position Email Phone Number

Keith Large

DEQ Project Manager

klarge@mt.gov

406-444-6569

Moira Davin

Public Information Specialist

moira.davin@mt.gov

406-444-6360

Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex

Site Overview

The Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex (UBMC) is a state superfund facility located about 15 miles east of Lincoln. Seeps from the tailings and waste rock dumps along with acid mine drainage from old adits have contaminated surface water, sediments, soils and groundwater. Additional contamination exists due to the 1975 dam failure that washed metals-laden tailings down the Beartrap Creek drainage and into the upper Blackfoot River.

DEQ has led cleanup efforts in coordination with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Montana Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) over the past several years. The primary goal of the cleanup is to remove approximately 1 million cubic yards of tailings and mine waste to protect human health and the environment. This protection will be accomplished by minimizing direct contact with contaminants and limiting migration and mobility of contaminants within the environment.

 

Virtual Tour

Reclamation Nears Completion on Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex in Lewis & Clark County

Reclamation work is nearing completion at the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex (UBMC), a State Superfund site located in Lewis & Clark County east of Lincoln, Mont. 

The reclamation work has been a coordinated effort of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Department of Justice – Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) and United States Forest Service (Forest Service). 

Historical mining practices contaminated the floodplains and waterways downstream of the Mike Horse Dam. The dam was built in 1941 to contain mine tailings but failed in 1975, flushing more than 200,000 cubic yards of mine tailings downstream for almost 10 miles and into the Blackfoot River. Required restoration and reclamation work included removal of the tailings dam and contaminated floodplain waste, as well as stream channel construction and floodplain restoration.  

The cleanup removed approximately 1 million cubic yards of tailings and mine waste that had contaminated streams and the adjacent floodplains and made survival difficult for aquatic life, including fish. The contaminated material was removed from the banks and floodplain of the Blackfoot River and its tributaries, and encapsulated in a nearby repository. Water quality has returned to healthy levels following the reclamation and restoration of the site. 
 
“This site is a great example of agencies working together to clean up pollution left by historic mining,” said Project Officer Dave Bowers from DEQ. “This unique piece of Montana can now be used by everyone to enjoy the clean river, trails and wildlife. Most importantly, the site is protective of human health and the environment.” 

Restoration was completed on Mike Horse Creek, Beartrap Creek and Blackfoot River stream channels and adjacent floodplains.  Fish are already populating the newly constructed stream channels.

“Seeing the restored streams teeming with life as clean, cold water flows from high on the continental divide is something we can all be proud of,” said Restoration Project Manager Beau Downing from NRDP. “I believe I speak for everyone involved with the project in saying that the outcome has far exceeded our expectations. Working with DEQ, the USFS, our project partners, and the contractors to complete the project has been a highlight of my career.”

Funding for the cleanup came from a $39 million settlement with Atlantic Richfield Co. and ASARCO, LLC—companies that came to own much of the historic mining district.  

While a majority of the work is done, DEQ and the Forest Service may still have work to do in the areas outside the floodplains depending on the availability of alternative funding sources. Smaller areas disturbed by past exploration and mining practices were identified in the Record of Decision and need to undergo “design level” investigations. These investigations will determine the exact actions, if any, that need to be taken at each site. Depending on the outcomes of the investigations, possible actions could range from no action at all to complete removal. 

“The work completed at the site is a true demonstration of multiple agencies working cooperatively together for the betterment of the environment in Montana,” said Steve Opp, on-scene coordinator for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. “The project partners have committed to long-term monitoring of the site that will last several years to measure the effectiveness of the clean-up and restoration.” 
 
The site is now open for recreational use. The nonprofit Blackfoot Challenge is working on a self-guided tour that will feature information kiosks located throughout the UBMC. The kiosks will include information panels covering topics such as unique plants and wildlife as well as a history of the mining that occurred in the area. 

The Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex (UBMC) is an inactive mining district more than 50 acres in size and located 15 miles east of Lincoln, Montana. American Smelting and Refining Company (Asarco) constructed the UBMC water treatment plant in 2008 and began operation in January 2009. The plant collects discharge from two mine adits and two seeps, treats the waters with chemicals and a ceramic membrane filter system, and then discharges the water into the Upper Blackfoot River. The primary metals that are removed are cadmium, copper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc. As part of the Asarco bankruptcy, Asarco funded a Trust to operate the water treatment plant with State of Montana oversight.

If you have any questions concerning water treatment plant operations, please direct your inquiries to:

Robert Roll
Remediation Division
1225 Cedar Street, Helena, Montana 59602
406-444-6438
rroll@mt.gov

NEWSLETTERS

DEQ, in coordination with the USFS and NRDP, puts out the Mike Horse Messenger, the newsletter for the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex. It is generally published twice a year, before and after the field season, to keep interested parties informed of progress at the UBMC.

If you would like to receive the Mike Horse Messenger or any other mailings on the UBMC from DEQ, you have two choices: 1.) To receive the information electronically, please use this ListServ option to enter your email information, or 2.) use this link to enter your address information and the mailings will be put in the mail to you.

Newsletter
Mike Horse Messenger 5/2020
Mike Horse Messenger 6/2019
Mike Horse Messenger 12/2018
Mike Horse Messenger 10/2018
Mike Horse Messenger 06/2018
Mike Horse Messenger 10/2017
Mike Horse Messenger 06/2016
Mike Horse Messenger 02/2016
Mike Horse Messenger 05/2015
Mike Horse Messenger 08/2014
Mike Horse Messenger 01/2014
Mike Horse Messenger 07/2013
Mike Horse Messenger 01/2013
Mike Horse Messenger 07/2012
Mike Horse Messenger 11/2011
Mike Horse Messenger 06/2011
Mike Horse Messenger 11/2010
UBMC FactSheet 11/2010     
Mike Horse Messenger 06/2010  
Mike Horse Messenger  01/2009
News Articles
 
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch (Article):'Restoring life to the UBMC'
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch (Article):Work on UBMC cleanup set to resume this summer, public meeting planned
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch (Article): 'Watershed Moments'
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch (Article): 'Quake
Montana Council of Trout Unlimited (Article): 'Good News for the Big Blackfoot'
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch(Article):'DEQ releases record of decision for final cleanup of Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex'
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch(Article):'DEQ, USFS, detail plan for cleaning up remaining UBMC contamination'
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch (Article): Cleanup Moves Ahead
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch(Article): 'Last of the Blue Goo'
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch (Article):'Historic Dam Progress at the Mike Horse'
 
Governor's Visit
KPAX News Segment
Decision Documents
Document Description Year Published
Record of Decision The Record of Decision identifies the final remedy for completing clenaup activities on non-federla lands at the UBMC site. 2016
Final Feasibility Study Report The Feasibility Study was prepared to develop, screen, and evaluate remedial action alternatives for the UBMC. 2016
Final Human Health Risk Assessment Presents the findings of the baseline human health risk assessment conducted on the UBMC. 2014
Final Eco-Risk Assessment Explains how the UBMC contamination in soil, stream sediment, and surface water affects the environment 2013
Final Remedial Investigation Report Soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, and biological data collected in 2007, 2008, and 2011 to determine the extent of contamination in the UBMC 2013
2012 Repository Decision (USFS website) Amendment to the 2007 USFS decision changing the repository location for the Mike Horse waste 2012

Repository Siting Study   (USFS website)

Comparative study of locations for a repository for the Mike Horse waste 2011
2007 UBMC Action Memorandum USFS decision on removal in the UBMC, including the Mike Horse Dam 2007
Monitoring Reports
Document Description Year Published
2012 Mining Area Monitoring Reports Data collected from surface water, groundwater, and stream sediments to establish existing conditions before cleanup 2013
2012 Section 35 Monitoring Report Data collected from surface water, groundwater, and stream sediments to establish existing condition before the repository is built 2013
2011 Mining Area Monitoring Report Data collected from surface water, groundwater, and stream sediments to establish existing condition before cleanup 2012
2011 Section 35 Monitoring Report Data collected from surface and groundwater to establish existing condition before the repository is built 2012
2010 Mining Area Monitoring Report Data collected from surface water, groundwater, and stream sediments to establish existing condition before cleanup 2012

2009 Mining Area Monitoring Report

2009 Mining Area Monitoring Report Maps

2009 Mining Area Monitoring Report Appendices

Data collected from surface water, groundwater, and stream sediments to establish existing condition before cleanup 2010
Construction Investigation and Documents
Document Description Year Published

2012 Floodplain Design-Level Investigation

2012 Floodplain Design-Level Investigation Appendices

Data collected to determine extent of removal of mine waste from the mining area and ensure proper placement in the repository 2013
2012 Repository Design-Level Investigation Data collected to determine proper design of the repository 2013
Water Treatment Plant
Document Description
Year
Published
Evaluation of Alternatives for Optimization of the UBMC WTP Investigation of alternatives to optimize the WTP for greater efficiency and cost savings 2019
Name Position Email Phone Number

Dave Bowers

DEQ Project Manager

DBowers@mt.gov

(406) 444-6335

Moira Davin

DEQ Public Information Specialist

Moira.Davin@mt.gov

(406) 444-6360

Beau Downing

NRDP Restoration Project Manager

BeauDowningn@mt.gov

 

Steve Opp

USFS On-Scene Coordinator

James.S.Opp@usda.gov