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Superfund Cleanup

Missoula, MT: (Feb-07-08) The state of Montana brought charges against Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO), alleging that it was liable to pay for the clean up of the upper Clark Fork River Basin, paving the way for a full-scale restoration of the watershed, where the mining industry brought economic wealth and environmental ruin to southwestern Montana starting in the 19th century. Records show that the state brought the lawsuit against ARCO in 1983 under Superfund laws and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed another lawsuit in 1989 to establish ARCO's liability for cleaning up the basin.

Sources stated that under settlement agreements in 1999, the state established a watershed restoration fund with funds from ARCO. To date, interest from the $130 million fund has financed 74 grant projects worth about $55 million, while the fund balance has grown to about $160 million.

In a recent development in the case, Atlantic Richfield Co. has agreed to pay $187 million to restore the upper Clark Fork River Basin, marking a milestone in the effort to clean up the nation's largest Superfund site. Sources said that the payout ends a 25-year legal battle between the state and ARCO, although some federal claims against the company are still being negotiated. The settlement is said to covers 120 miles of the river and nearby lands from Butte to Milltown Dam east of Missoula, where heavy metals from mining and smelting have harmed the aquifer, soils, streambed, fish, plants and wildlife habitat. [MISSOULIAN: ARCO CLEANUP]

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Published on Feb-9-08


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