ANACONDA- The Montana Supreme Court ruled Friday that private landowners in Opportunity living near the Anaconda smelter can move forward with a lawsuit seeking damages from the Atlantic Richfield Co (ARCO).

Several landowners living downwind from the Anaconda smelter want ARCO to pay damages for restoration to their land and groundwater, which they claim is contaminated by a century’s worth of arsenic pollution from the smelter.

The decision was made after testimony before the state’s supreme court last April on the University of Montana Campus.

Attorneys for ARCO argued during the April hearing that their client already cleaned land up to EPA standards and that this lawsuit would interfere with future Superfund cleanup in the region.

Story continues below

The state supreme court upheld the property owner’s right to seek damages against ARCO by a 6 to 1 decision. Justice Laurie McKinnon was the lone dissenting vote.

-John Emeigh reporting for MTN