EPA proposes new changes to cleanup plan
ANACONDA, Mont. - The Environmental Protection Agency is expanding tests for lead in and around Anaconda. The decision comes after almost two decades of collecting data and performing work to clean up the Superfund site. Anaconda was home to mining and smelting activities for more than 100 years. Much of the ore pulled out of the ground in Butte, 30 miles to the east, made its way to Anaconda for processing. The result -- much of the soil has been contaminated with metals like lead and arsenic. Anaconda resident Jerome Moses tells me the Environmental Protection Agency crews came in to clean up his yard to get rid of arsenic contamination. "There are is much contamination over there and stuff like that these people have lived over there all their lives," said Moses. But he said wasn't happy with what he saw. "They did a totally inaccurate job and they were supposed to go so deep but only scraped the top," said Moses. Now, he's learned he may get his front lawn looked at again but not just for arsenic. Past efforts have tested for and cleaned up arsenic in residents' yards, up to 18 inches. Now they're also looking for lead and if these chemicals are found, they will remove up to 1 foot of soil from the yards. If the EPA find levels greater than 400 parts per million, the minimum standard set by the Centers for Disease Control for bare soil in play areas, they will remove the dirt, add clean soil and cap it with sod. "We've got kids and little kids too and if they pick it up they will get sick," said resident Lanna Rosted. Residents told NBC Montana they're worried they might see health problems from all this contamination. "A lot of people have had health problems with it like breathing and rashes and stuff. I myself have gotten eczema from it," said resident Pegge Marjamaa. And they all agree they would like to see it cleaned up for a second time. "I'd appreciate it," said Justin Hathaway. "It would be nice to get that stuff out of the ground." Residents like Moses hope this time around they'll get rid of the contaminants for good. "I would love for them to come back again and do it right," said Moses. All areas in Anaconda will be eligible for arsenic and lead testing. Under the previous plan the EPA estimated around 1,900 properties would be impacted and these changes increase that to more than 3,700 properties. Testing alone is expected to cost around $1.9 million, with cleanup of the contaminated yards around $4.8 million.