EPA begins remediation of contaminated soil in Black Eagle

Clean-ups will remove lead and arsenic affected soils
Black Eagle, Montana
Black Eagle, Montana
EPA Yard Cleanup.png
Black Eagle, Montana
Posted at 9:06 AM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 11:06:56-04

In Black Eagle this week under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency, yard clean ups will begin removing lead and arsenic affected soils from landowners properties.

The soil contamination is a result of 80 years of waste from the former ACM Smelter and Refinery.

The Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) purchased the smelter in 1977, and since its closure in 1980, ARCO and the EPA have conducted numerous maintenance efforts for contaminated soil and water in the area, including removing approximately 1,200 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the Moose Lodge property in Black Eagle in November 2011.

A 2008 soil study found that 45% of yards in Black Eagle contained elevated levels of lead and arsenic.

Bryan Lobar, the Remedial Project Manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains, “For the remediation to be done, they have to sign the access forms, to actually allow people to come out. So no one's going to be forced to do it. We think it's definitely a good idea because lead and arsenic have deleterious health effects”. The crews will be removing the contaminated soil and “replacing it with clean dirt that's been reviewed and approved by the EPA and covering it up usually with sod, in some places with rock at the homeowner’s request”, Lobar says.

Clean up crews are working with homeowners under individual site work plans for each property.

The removed contaminated soil will be deposited at an existing repository located on the former smelter site.

The work is expected to be completed over the course of two summers, beginning this week.

Crews will work 6:30am - 6:30pm Mondays through Wednesdays, and 6:30am - 4:00pm on Thursdays.

Atlantic Richfield agreed to complete cleanups in the community of Black Eagle with an estimated cost of $3.9 million as a result of a 2023 Consent Decree, finding Atlantic Richfield liable for the performance of response actions and for payment of response costs incurred in connection with the release of hazardous substances at the ACM Smelter and Refinery Site in Cascade County.

To learn more about the ACM Smelter and Refinery and the cleanup efforts, click here.