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Letter: Butte Superfund five-year review shows mixed results

Letter: Butte Superfund five-year review shows mixed results

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The Butte community is engaged in a five-year review of Superfund remedy (i.e. clean-up) in our area. There has been a broad range of success and failure. The clean-up and restoration of Silver Bow Creek is a national model for removal type remedies. The clean-up on the Butte Hill, however, is a waste-stored-in-place remedy and leaves much to be desired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Issues on the Butte Hill include high action levels for arsenic and heavy metals, a refusal to acknowledge recent studies that show arsenic and heavy metals to be a much greater problem than we imagined 20 years ago, social justice concerns, slow and ineffective measures to protect human health, an unreasonably long timeline to protect Silver Bow Creek from recontamination and efforts to ignore huge areas of toxic waste such as the Parrot tailings and the Westside Soils.

Volunteers with the Citizens Technical Environmental Committee contribute hundreds of hours of their time to communicate with and educate the public about these issues. CTEC's efforts are seriously hamstrung, how-ever, by inadequate funding from the EPA. Butte is an extremely complex Superfund site and part of the largest Superfund site in America. CTEC needs money to pay technical advisers, print materials, maintain a Web site and pay communication/outreach consultants. By starving CTEC, the EPA is assured that Butte citizens have an ineffectual voice in the Superfund process.

Thank you to Sen. Jon Tester and to his field director, Pamela Haxby-Cote, for taking Superfund issues seriously in the five-year review. This continues a long tradition going back to Rep. Pat Williams' leadership in ensuring that the EPA treated Butte fairly in the 1980s. The Superfund process — whether a remedy or a five-year review — doesn't just happen. But active citizen participation and good political leadership will help ensure that the EPA lives up to its mandate to "permanently and significantly reduce the risks associated with … hazardous substances." Pat Munday 723 W. Daly St.



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