News Releases from Headquarters›Office of the Administrator (AO)
Court Approves Consent Decree Allowing EPA to Move Forward with Butte Cleanup
WASHINGTON (September 16, 2020) — Today, the Federal District Court of Montana approved the motion to enter the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit consent decree and supporting documents, making the consent decree an enforceable order of the Court. The Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit Consent Decree and its related documents reflect agreement on many remedial actions to be accomplished over the next several years in Butte and Walkerville Montana. The remedial work will provide additional protections for human health and the environment in Butte and Walkerville, and the consent decree specifies how that work will be implemented, monitored, and evaluated for protectiveness.
“I was proud to witness first hand some of the hard work that is being done to clean up the Butte Superfund site, which has has been ongoing for decades," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "This Consent Decree will ensure we meet our goal of beginning to delist this long standing site by 2024.”
“This agreement will keep EPA on track to begin delisting Butte in 2024. The community has waited too long for this step and while a momentary celebration is warranted, we still have work to do,” said EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento. “However, it is important to recognize the local, state and federal leaders that made this happen and the EPA career staff that worked so hard to get to this point. Most importantly, the community of Butte never gave up fighting for the cleanup they deserved and they are the one’s that made this happen.”
“This is tremendous news and allows for an expanded cleanup in Butte and Walkerville that will benefit the community in the coming decades,” said EPA Region 8 Administrator Greg Sopkin. “We look forward to continue to work with the community to implement this consent decree which will create recreational opportunities and scenic greenway at the site and provide protections for human health and the environment.”
The Consent Decree secures more than $150 million of cleanup actions from Atlantic Richfield to complete final cleanup actions at the BPSOU. Along with the amended Record of Decision for the site, these actions will lead to the beginning of the Superfund site deletion process for the Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area Site by 2024. New aspects of the Butte Priority Soils cleanup will remove contaminated tailings at the Northside and Diggings East Tailings areas and along Silver Bow and Blacktail Creeks; will treat more contaminated stormwater and groundwater to keep that water out of the creeks; and will cap and revegetate additional mine waste areas on Butte Hill. The amended ROD also expands the successful Residential Metals Abatement Program to more homes in Butte and Silver Bow County.
The Consent Decree also sets aside 120-acres for connected greenways in Butte– natural park spaces with reconstructed wetlands, flowing water, abundant native plants, wildlife habitat, play areas, and interpretive features. Nearly eight miles of trails and boardwalks will allow all-season access to these areas. These outcomes set a foundation for specific amenities identified by the Butte community, including, if the community decides to go that route, the potential construction of a lined creek in the upper Silver Bow Creek corridor.