Chinese Proverb: “No matter how far you go down the wrong road, it is never too late to turn around!”
I am asked on a daily basis what is currently happening with Butte Superfund issues and in particular the cleanup and restoration of Silver Bow Creek and its corridor from Texas Avenue to Montana Street and through the Slag Canyon.
I believe that the current proposal is being designed and developed “on the cheap”! It absolutely does not meet the cleanup standards required under Superfund/state laws and the Montana Constitution. The proposal even requires substantially lowering of water discharge standards at the Headwaters of the Columbia and Clark Fork Rivers to complete the task! How crazy is that?
Sadly and unbelievably the state, EPA and the local government representatives, who developed the solution in “closed-door secret sessions,” are all solidly in support of this inadequate decision proposed by the Atlantic Richfield/British Petroleum Company. I disagree!
I believe, unless major changes are initiated, the current proposal is definitely not in the best interest in the future of our great town! Butte will not receive the quality cleanup and restoration the community deserves. Simply put —Butte deserves better.
Sadly, up to this point, all of the quality input the agencies and local government representatives have received from Butte residents and from groups like Restore Our Creek has been ignored and will not be included in the upcoming Consent Decree. Including creating a quality Silver Bow Creek flowing through our town, responsibly addressing the storm runoff issue from the Butte Hill and the inadequacy of the reverse French drain. In addition to completely ignoring the legal order by Judge Brad Newman that Silver Bow Creek is a watercourse and protected as “waters of the State” in the Montana Constitution.
Arco/BP is totally responsible for the cleanup! They made the final decision to end underground mining in Butte, closed the Anaconda Smelter, shut off the underground mine pumps that caused the Berkeley Pit flooding, and closed the Berkeley Pit and the East Continental Pit. In essence, ending the 100+ year history of Butte mining.
The question all Butte residents and especially the Butte Silver Bow Council of Commissioners must now ask is who is going to pay — the Butte taxpayer, State of Montana, EPA or Arco/BP? While our local representatives will tell you Arco/BP is going to pay, the truth is $10 million of Butte restoration and $8 million of state restoration dollars are currently being used to remove the Parrot tailings. These dollars are not to be used for cleanup and are designed to restore the area to productive use. Additional millions of dollars will be required to complete that task.
Within the next few months the Council of Commissioners will be asked to make what I believe will be one of the most important, if not the most important decision ever, concerning the economic, environmental and social future in Butte’s 100+ year history!” Sadly, they are going to make that decision without having the necessary information to make such an important decision. Relying primarily on information provided to them by a few local government representatives that have participated in the “secret closed door Consent Decree discussions” held over the past several years and still continues today.
I believe, all pertinent information from the “secret discussions” leading to the incompetent decision should be made available to the Council and the public before any decision is finalized!
As Martin Luther King would say, “The time is always right to do what is right!” And as Brian Schweitzer would say, “Never take your heel off the head of a snake while the snake is still trying to bite you!”