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Historic Anaconda Smelter removed from Superfund list

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Briefs from the Region—Aug. 23, 2023

On Aug. 21, the Environmental Protection Agency removed the Anaconda Smelter from the state’s roster of Superfund sites. The site encompasses a 300-square-mile site in Deer Lodge, Montana, that operated as a copper concentrating and smelting operation between 1884 and 1980. A Superfund is a federal program designed to investigate and clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances. The Anaconda Smelter was established as a Superfund in 1983 due to high concentrations of arsenic, lead, copper, cadmium and zinc that contaminated soil, groundwater and surface water, posing a threat to the community and ecosystem. A site is removed from the list when no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment. According to EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker, the federal agency will conduct five-year reviews to monitor the area to ensure it poses no further threat.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, before the removal of the Anaconda Smelter site, Montana was home to 17 Superfunds, the largest of which is the Berkley Pit in Butte, another relic of the state’s copper mining history.

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