Bozeman gives update on Story Mill Landfill remediation


BOZEMAN, Mont. - A meeting heated up as residents in a Bozeman neighborhood demanded answers from the city about toxic gases leaking into their homes.

In June 2013, the City of Bozeman alerted residents of Bridger Creek Subdivision Phase 3 to the gases and began testing homes. Many tests showed potentially harmful gases. The City paid to install systems in the homes to suck the gases out, and expanded to sampling ground water nearby.

Multiple residents filed claims against the City seeking damages.

On Wednesday, Bozeman city leaders hosted a meeting to update residents on their progress to fix the problem.

Since their last public meeting in March, the city installed 10 new groundwater testing wells throughout the Bridger Creek Subdivision and the landfill. During this round of testing, the city found multiple elevated levels beyond what's acceptable for drinking water of various chemical compounds.

Now, the city is looking at remediation options for the landfill itself, and they hope to start building that system by the end of the year.

After city officials gave their progress report, some residents left unsatisfied, saying they still have unanswered questions.

Residents from the Bridger Canyon Subdivision Phases 2 and 3 met with city leaders and representatives from the Department of Environmental Quality to get the latest update on what's happening with the city's efforts to remove toxic gases from Bridger Creek homes and the nearby landfill.

When the city opened the floor up to questions, a resident yelled at Mayor Jeff Krauss, demanding, "What's going to happen to all of us who live in this subdivision?"

The outburst came after Public Works Director Craig Woolard mentioned gases were originally detected at the landfill site in the 1980s. The resident asked why the subdivision was approved to be built in the first place if the city knew the gases were there.

Krauss told the resident to talk to the city's legal department and abruptly ended the question and answer session. Krauss explained they were only there to talk about the progress, and nothing else.

"We're here to present where we are in the process, what we found in our testing, what the next steps are," he said.

But for many of the residents, the issue is not just about the facts and figures.

"I know there have been families, particularly in Phase 3, whose lives have been turned upside down, quite frankly," explained resident Steven Enoch.

Bozeman's City Manager Chris Kukulski explained on Wednesday afternoon he had no update on the status of the resident legal claims against the city.

The city will continue additional sampling in the area. They are working to complete their reports about the situation and their recommendation for remediation, then submit the findings to the Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ will host another public meeting sometime in late August or September.