Schweitzer Criticizes Plan to Sell Frenchtown Mill

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – Gov. Brian Schweitzer is criticizing Smurfit-Stone’s plan to sell its Frenchtown paper mill for scrap and is demanding the company turn over information on the environmental status of the property.

Speaking outside the mill Wednesday, Schweitzer told local officials “this will be cleaned up before Smurfit-Stone leaves Montana.” The company closed the mill last year and has a purchase agreement to sell the site to Oregon-based Ralston Investments.

Smurfit has not responded to a March 1 letter sent by the state Department of Environmental Quality urging it to conduct several environmental assessments of the site. The DEQ sent another letter Tuesday noting that the Montana Asbestos Control Act would also apply if the site were demolished.

Schweitzer also says other buyers are interested in the site who could keep the mill operating. Ralston has declined to comment.

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