Butte Priority Soils

A Map of the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit (BPS OU) and associated OUs in the greater Silver Bow Creek/Butte Superfund site from the 2006 Record of Decision (ROD) for the site. Note that many OUs are located within or adjacent to the larger boundary of the BPSOU.

EPA’s latest bulletin, from July 11, 2013, provides an overview of past and ongoing remediation work in the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit (BPSOU), which includes most of the Butte urban area. Download the bulletin below.

EPA Bulletin #19 (July 11, 2013): Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit Reclamation
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In March 2013, EPA released the updated Community Involvement Plan (CIP) for the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit (BPSOU). The updated CIP is available for download below or in the Superfund Library, or in hard copy at CTEC and at the EPA’s offices in Butte and Helena.

Butte Community Involvement Plan (CIP) (Mar. 2013)
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British Petroleum subsidiary Atlantic Richfield (BP-ARCO) has provided a new website with information and data about the cleanup of the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit. The purpose of the site is to provide current data to the public, including data on surface and groundwater chemistry, flow, and much more. Visit the new site at bpsou.com.

The data at the site does not include much interpretation, so if you are overwhelmed or confused by the technical terminology and the meaning of the data, contact CTEC for assistance.

BP-ARCO is the largest Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) liable for environmental cleanup in the Butte area.

 

Unilateral Administrative Order (2011)

EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for the Butte Priority Soils area in July 2011.

A UAO is an enforcement tool that compels Potentially Responsible Parties to design and carry out cleanup actions. If PRPs do not comply, EPA can perform a fund-financed cleanup and seek to recover those costs from the PRPs . If PRPs do not comply, the Superfund law also authorizes a court to award penalties.

As Consent Decree negotiations, the last step in planning cleanup, have dragged on in Butte for years, the UAO implements some parts of the Record of Decision (ROD, which can be downloaded below in the Past Cleanup section) for the site, while negotiations continue. Complete UAO documents, as well as an EPA Bulletin summarizing the UAO, can be downloaded below, or via the Superfund Library.

Unilateral Administrative Order & Partial Remedy Work Plan for the BPSOU (July 21, 2011)
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UAO & Partial Remedy Work Plan for the BPSOU - Appendix A: Soil, Groundwater & Surface Water Performance Standards (July 21, 2011)
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UAO & Partial Remedy Work Plan for the BPSOU: Appendix B: Butte Site and BPSOU Map (July 21, 2011)
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UAO & Partial Remedy Work Plan for the BPSOU: Appendix C: Schedule (July 21, 2011)
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UAO & Partial Remedy Work Plan for the BPSOU: Appendix D: EPA November 8, 2008 letter on snow disposal (July 21, 2011)
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UAO & Partial Remedy Work Plan for the BPSOU: Appendix E: Revised Interim Ground Water Monitoring Plan, 2011 (July 21, 2011)
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UAO & Partial Remedy Work Plan for the BPSOU: Figure 1: Source Control Area Map  (July 21, 2011)
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EPA Bulletin #14 – Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) & Work Plan (2011)
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Five Year Review (2010-2011)

The most recent EPA Five Year Review Report for the site and associated appendices can be downloaded using the links below, or via the Superfund Library.

  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6: Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit (June 2011)
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  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Appendix A: Site Photos (June 2011)
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  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Appendix B: Residential Metals Abatement Program Access (June 2011)
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  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Appendix C: Sites Visited During Inspection (June 2011)
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Link to Download   5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Appendix D: 2007-2009 Field Evaluation Forms (June 2011)
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  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Appendix E: Operation & Maintenance Forms (June 2011)
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  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Appendix F: Notice of Violation, BSB Wastewater Treatment (June 2011)
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  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Appendix G: Responsiveness Summary (June 2011)
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  5-Year Review Report for SBC/Butte Area Superfund Site - Volume 6, Figures
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Ground Water Data Analysis Report (2010, released Feb. 2012)

The most recent EPA ground water data analysis report can be downloaded using the link below.

2010 Ground Water Data Analysis Report (released Feb. 2012)
2010 Ground Water Data Analysis Report (released Feb. 2012)
BPSOU_2010GWDataAnalysisReport_Jan2012.pdf
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Past Cleanup

Cleanup at the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit (BPSOU), which includes most of the surface urban area of uptown Butte and the community of Walkerville, has been divided into two phases. Phase I, an expedited Response Action, has addressed source areas by removing waste dumps, railroad beds, or other related mine wastes. These source areas were adjacent to or up gradient of receptor areas (residential yards, gardens, parks and playgrounds). Many waste sites were capped with clean soil through a “waste-in-place” treatment strategy that does not remove wastes. Such sites are evaluated on a rolling basis through the Butte Reclamation Evaluation System (BRES). The BRES is discussed in this EPA Bulletin from August 2010. Response actions that are part of Phase I continue.

Mine waste, in the form of waste rock and fine-grained tailings, was scattered around the Butte hill over 100 years of industrail mining.

Mine waste, in the form of waste rock and fine-grained tailings, was scattered around the Butte hill over 100 years of industrial mining.

The local government also runs a Residential Metals Abatement Program that includes a lead abatement program that addresses children with elevated blood lead levels; residential yards with lead levels over 1,200 parts per million; residential homes with lead drinking pipes; indoor dust contaminated with lead; and interior and/or exterior lead paint. This is a five-year program administered by the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department with oversight by EPA. For more information on this program, call Eric Hassler at the Butte-Silver Bow County Health Department at 406-497-5042.

Click here to download the Residential Metals Abatement Program (2010) as a .pdf file. The Residential Metals Abatement Program is also discussed in this EPA Bulletin from March 2010.

Phase II is currently underway, and includes an investigation to assess the actions already taken, all other areas of contamination, storm runoff, and future land use problems in Butte and Walkerville. Click here to read the final Municipal Stormwater System Improvement Plan (2011), prepared by EPA consultants Water & Environmental Technologies and Morrison-Maierle. Phase II culminated in a Record of Decision (ROD) in September 2006, which can be downloaded below or via the Superfund Library, or viewed at EPA’s Butte office (155 W. Granite), the CTEC office (27 W. Park St.), or the Montana Tech library. Other Records of Decision related to area Superfund sites are also available from the EPA website.

Summary of EPA’s Record of Decision for Cleanup of the Butte Priority Soils (2006)
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Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit Record of Decision, Part 1: Declaration
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Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit Record of Decision, Part 2: Decision Summary
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Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit Record of Decision, Part 3: Responsiveness Summary
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Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit Record of Decision, Appendices A-E
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According to EPA, recent and ongoing cleanup activities include:

  • Construction completion for:
    • Granite Mountain Memorial Interpretive Area (GMMIA)
    • Syndicate Pit
    • Remaining source areas
    • Lower Area One
  • A stormwater monitoring program
  • A groundwater monitoring program
    • Installation of additional groundwater monitoring wells near Metro Storm Drain and Lower Area One
  • Evaluation of the Metro Storm Drain and treatment lagoons at Lower Area One
  • Implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for stormwater
  • Implementation of the Butte Reclamation Evaluation System (BRES)
  • Consent Decree negotiations or Administrative Order is served by EPA
  • Continued implementation of the Residential Metals Abatement Program

Mine tailings at the Colorado Smelter, which sat at the base of the Butte hill near Silver Bow Creek at the site of Lower Area One.

Mine tailings at the Colorado Smelter, which sat at the base of the Butte hill near Silver Bow Creek at the site of Lower Area One.

According to EPA, the following removal actions have taken place in the Butte Priority Soils area:

  • 1988 – Walkerville (north of Butte): Stabilization of 300,000 cubic yards of lead-contaminated soil from mine waste dumps. Earthen basements (4) and residential yards (23) were cleaned up.
  • 1989 – Timber Butte: Some 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were moved to a temporary on-site repository in 1989. Two residential yards were cleaned up.
  • 1990 – 1991 Priority Soils: Waste dumps containing about 100,000 cubic yards of soil were either capped or removed. A railroad bed and seven residential yards were also reclaimed.
  • 1991 – Colorado Smelter: Approximately 40,000 cubic yards were moved to an on-site disposal area.
  • 1992 – Anselmo Mine Yard/Late Acquisition Silver Hill: contaminated soils were removed.
  • 1994 – Walkerville: Several waste dumps were either removed or capped.
  • 1994 – Residential/Source Areas: Residential yards and waste rock dumps located throughout Butte and Walkerville have been/are being addressed.
  • 1996 – Stormwater: Construction of cement channels and sedimentation ponds throughout the Butte hill to address stormwater contamination.
  • 1999 – Railroad: Removal of contaminated soil on numerous railroad beds and rail yards throughout the Butte hill. This action should be completed in 2003 (EPA has provided no update on whether this completion date was met).
  • 2000/2001 – Walkerville Residential Area: This action addressed 46 residential properties throughout Walkerville, MT.

A more complete list of cleanup activities for the BPSOU, as well as other Operable Units, can be found at the EPA website, although it is somewhat out of date.

The boundaries of the Butte Priority Soils/Residential Soils Operable Unit of the Butte Area Superfund environmental cleanup site. Map from Montana NRIS.

The approximate boundaries of the Butte Priority Soils/Residential Soils Operable Unit of the Butte Area Superfund environmental cleanup site. Map from Montana NRIS.

 

Further Exploration

 

One thought on “Butte Priority Soils

  • Can you direct me to a figure that shows the SOIL LEAD CONCENTRATIONS in Butte, prior to remediation? Ideally, I’d like to find a contour map showing the different concentrations.

    Thanks. any help is appreciated.

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