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Case Summary: Cleanup Settlement Provides for Aggressive Investigation at Site in Montana

On November 20, 2015, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with Columbia Falls Aluminum Company to investigate contamination at the Anaconda Aluminum Co Columbia Falls Reduction Plant, also known as the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) Plant, in Flathead County, Mont. Under the terms of the agreement, the site investigation will include a comprehensive investigation of soils, river sediments, and ground and surface water to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the site. Additionally, the company will reimburse EPA for its costs in overseeing the investigation. EPA worked closely with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to negotiate the scope and details of the investigation. The investigation and oversight cost payments are set out in an administrative settlement agreement and order on consent for remedial investigation/feasibility study.

The results of the investigation will determine cleanup needs and identify potential cleanup options at the site. EPA representatives attended a community meeting in Columbia Falls on January 14, 2016, to discuss the agreement, address questions, and outline next steps including opportunities for public involvement.

“This agreement helps us to fully identify the nature and extent of the contamination and begin to address threats to human health and the environment at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Plant Superfund site. We are encouraged that the company has committed to an aggressive investigation of the contamination in a legally binding agreement.” Shaun McGrath, EPA’s Region 6 Administrator

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Information about Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

In 1985, Columbia Falls Aluminum Company bought the plant from Atlantic Richfield Company, which had purchased the facility from the plant’s original owner, Anaconda Company, in 1977.

Information about the Anaconda Aluminum Co Columbia Falls Reduction Plant

The Anaconda Aluminum Co Columbia Falls Reduction Plant site, also known as the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) Plant, is located two miles northeast of Columbia Falls, and covers approximately 960 acres north of the Flathead River, a fishery that includes the federally designated threatened bull trout and the federally sensitive westslope cutthroat trout. EPA’s initial evaluation indicates that ground water and surface water at the site contain various contaminants of concern, including cyanide, fluoride, various metals and pesticides.

The CFAC plant operated between 1955 and 2009 and created significant quantities of spent potliner material, a federally listed hazardous waste, as a byproduct of the aluminum smelting process.

Surrounded by more than two million acres of the Flathead National Forest and with the Flathead River flowing through town, Columbia Falls is known as the gateway to Glacier National Park. The community offers access to Glacier National Park's Camas Creek and West Glacier entrances, as well as the beautiful North Fork of the Flathead River.

More information is available on the Anaconda Aluminum Co Columbia Falls Reduction Plan site profile sheet.

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Information on pollutants and environmental effects

Contaminants of concern at the site include cyanide, fluoride and metals. The plant operated between 1955 and 2009, and produced aluminum. Spent potliner material, a federally listed hazardous waste, was generated as a byproduct. Spent potliner material is known to contain cyanide compounds that can leach into groundwater.

Contact Information

For more information, contact

Joe Vranka

Richard Mylott

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202-1129

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