The Atlantic Richfield Company and ARCO Environmental Remediation, L.L.C. (collectively referred to as Atlantic Richfield) have entered into an agreement aimed at the comprehensive cleanup of community soils impacted by the ACM Smelter and Refinery Superfund Site located in Black Eagle, Montana.

This development was announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The crux of the proposed consent decree entails compelling Atlantic Richfield to assume financial responsibility for accrued response costs and orchestrate a substantial and multi-million-dollar cleanup initiative targeting residential and non-residential yards.

The overarching objective of this endeavor is to effectively combat and remediate the extensive soil contamination that has amassed over several decades.

The EPA's designation of the Site as part of the Superfund National Priority List in March 2011 underscores the gravity of the situation.

The historical operations of the Great Falls Refinery, which operated for an impressive span of nearly 80 years adjacent to the community of Black Eagle, catalyzed the generation of considerable quantities of slag, tailings, flue dust, and other forms of waste intrinsic to smelting and refining processes.

These byproducts contained harmful metals such as lead and arsenic, which consequently infiltrated the soil, groundwater, and surface water resources in the vicinity of the Site, engendering a complex environmental challenge.

The proposed consent decree mandates that Atlantic Richfield spearheads the conceptualization and execution of a comprehensive remedial strategy, explicitly targeting the community soils within one of the Site's three operable units, denoted as OU1.

The estimated financial outlay for this endeavor amounts to approximately $2,286,000. Furthermore, Atlantic Richfield is also obliged to remit the sum of $464,475.12 to account for the past response costs that the EPA has incurred up to September 30, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich for the District of Montana articulated his optimism about this agreement, expressing hopes that it would pave the way for restoring natural resources, thereby fostering a healthier and safer living environment for the residents of Great Falls.

This sentiment was mirrored by Amy Steinmetz, the waste management and remediation division administrator at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), who hailed this agreement as an exciting milestone in pursuing the cleanup efforts in Black Eagle.

Having been lodged with the U.S. District Court in Great Falls, Montana, the proposed consent decree is poised for 30 days of public commentary and awaits approval from the federal court.

In parallel, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality is mandated by state law to facilitate a similar public commentary period.

This synchronicity ensures that federal and state stakeholders can contribute their perspectives and insights to this critical development.

For those seeking a deeper understanding of the operable units, the history of the Site, as well as information concerning past time-critical cleanup initiatives, the EPA Superfund site page serves as a valuable repository of pertinent information.

In culmination, the proposed consent decree stands as a testament to the concerted efforts of multiple entities in their resolute commitment to rectifying the environmental repercussions borne by Black Eagle, heralding a renewed era of enhanced environmental integrity and community well-being.

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