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EPA Says No Emergency Pollution Situation at Smurfit-Stone Site [AUDIO]

flooded mill site
photo by Peter Christian

At a public hearing held Thursday night in Frenchtown, the owners of the former Smurfit-Stone mill site met with Missoula County, EPA, and other officials regarding the pollution left behind at the facility.

Ray Stillwell, manager of M2Green Redevelopment, owner of the property since 2011 admitted that he fully expected the EPA would find some level of contamination from the mill that had operated from the late 1950’s until its closure in 2010.

Peter Nielsen, water quality specialist with the Missoula City-County Health Department started the meeting with a presentation of the pollution his agency found at the site, including various dioxin and furan compounds, and emergency spill ponds contaminated with chemicals that Nielsen said could get into the nearby Clark Fork River in a flood situation, such as what happened in 2011.

A representative from the EPA, Rob Parker, said while releases of pollution into the Clark Fork have been documented, sampling data does not indicate that an emergency situation currently exists. the agency says further tests must be conducted before the area can be placed on the National Priorities List..the next step to declaring the area a Superfund Site. The next opportunity to add sites to the NPL is in April of 2013.

Stillwell said his company will work with the State, the county and the EPA to remediate the designated area. He said even as pollution testing continues, his company plans to continue developing the site.

M2Green Redevelopment’s Ray Stillwell

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