ANACONDA — A tentative agreement calls for the Atlantic Richfield Co. to pay $120 million to Anaconda-Deer Lodge County over the next century to maintain properties where copper-smelting waste was capped in place as part of a Superfund cleanup.
BP, the parent company of Arco, issued a statement saying it believes the agreement will benefit the community and the environment.
Carl Nyman, the county’s superfund coordinator, said the deal “captures what the community wants to see.”
Arco is the responsible party for about 100 years of smelting activity. The Environmental Protection Agency named Anaconda a Superfund site in 1983.
About 130 people attended a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss the proposal, which also includes money to help improve the local economy, The Montana Standard reported.
Old Works Golf Course board president Mike King expressed his support. Under the agreement, the golf course would get $1.35 million for deferred maintenance and improvement projects, an annual operating budget of $250,000 and water rights.
Smelting waste was capped and the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course built on top of it, with inert slag in the bunkers.
Years of negotiations led to the agreement, which includes $500,000 annually for overseeing Superfund issues such as soil removal and lead dust abatement and to maintain other waste-in-place sites and oversee potential development of land that Arco deeded to the county. The county would receive $1 million upon signing the agreement.
Donna Shewey, speaking on behalf of an effort to build a recreation complex, complained that the $250,000 annual allocation for community enhancement is not enough.
“If we really want to generate new jobs in Anaconda, $250,000 is nothing,” she said.
Anaconda attorney Ken Connors said the agreement would give the county some stability.
“When it comes to negotiating an agreement, you never get everything you want, you have to give up some things,” Connors said. “We’re getting to a point where we need to get this settled, so people have certainty if they come here to start a business.”
County officials hope to have a final agreement later this year.
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