EPA and state at odds over Clark Fork cleanup plan



The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it has four “significant concerns” regarding an updated cleanup plan for the upper Clark Fork River in Montana. The agency said the plan may not fully protect human health and the environment.

The state lacked funds to pay for repairs, prompting changes last spring. This streamlines cleanup, but leaves more waste along the river’s floodplain. The latest plan was developed by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Natural Resources Damage Program.

The EPA shared concerns about the updated plan with state officials in May and made it public last month. The agency said the state’s plan to leave more waste behind “may not fully protect” human health and the environment. They added that there was no “clear indication” of how the remaining budget would be spent.

The state Department of Environmental Quality disputes that analysis. Officials believe the remaining budget is sufficient to complete the cleanup in line with EPA standards and are willing to meet with the agency to “explain and clarify” spending to date. said.

The cleanup effort focuses on a 43-mile stretch of the river from Warm Springs to Garrison that was contaminated with mining waste during the 1908 flood. The funding came from a 2008 settlement with Atlantic Litchfield.

The state will hold a public meeting regarding the cleanup on Nov. 15 at Deer Lodge.

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