Tester, Baucus Seek Study of Contamination Levels at CFAC

By Beacon Staff

Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to study whether contamination levels at the shuttered Columbia Falls Aluminum Company plant pose a risk to the community and to future business.

Glencore, which owns CFAC, closed the plant outside Columbia Falls in October 2009.

Tester and Baucus urged the EPA to study contamination levels that could determine if the site deserves to be declared a Superfund site.

“We are concerned about an indefinite delay in economic opportunities at the site and support the community’s efforts to explore all options for remediation,” Tester and Baucus wrote the EPA.

“Due to the complexity of the site we urge the EPA to swiftly commence a site assessment of the CFAC production facilities for a listing of Superfund.”

Tester and Baucus said they want the EPA to assess the risks posed by the plant’s decades-long handling of hazardous materials, including cyanide and zinc. They specifically called on the agency to study the plant’s solvent landfills and wastewater ponds that handled plant discharge until the 1980s.

Here is a copy of Tester and Baucus’ letter to the EPA.

The CFAC plant began producing aluminum in 1955, with production reaching 180,000 tons of aluminum by 1968. At its height, the plant employed 1,500 people and was central to the area’s economy.

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