State puts pressure on Glencore to clean up site


State puts pressure on Glencore to clean up site

KALISPELL, Mont. - The state of Montana is putting pressure on Glencore to clean up their act in Columbia Falls. Glencore owns the site of the old Columbia Falls Aluminum Company plant. The plant was shut down in 2009.

For years there have been worries that hazardous chemicals are leaking from the site into groundwater and soil.

In June Sen. Jon Tester sent a letter to Glencore demanding something be done with the site. Now the State of Montana is taking action.

"DEQ and our federal partners and the Environmental Protection Agency have been addressing and looking at the site with kind of a general preliminary investigation," said Jenny Chambers, of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in a phone interview.

The department sent Glencore a 53-page Draft Administrative Order of Consent.  It's a voluntary chance for Glencore to work with the DEQ in better understanding what is happening at the old CFAC site.

"The state of Montana just wants to ensure that the site is addressed and that the investigation is completed to identify the type of environmental risk or public concerns," said Chambers.

The draft lays out a number of pieces of information that Glencore would have to turn over if they agree to work with the DEQ. They include detailed plans of the facility and a complete history of hazardous waste disposals.

It also mentions a 2013 EPA report which found chemical levels in groundwater to be higher than the state allows.

If Glencore does not agree to this draft, the state is ready to take further action.

"We could order them to address the site. It wouldn't be voluntary in that nature, it would be more of an order," said Chambers.

We reached out to Glencore but they have yet to return our calls. The state says it would like to hear back from Glencore on the draft by August 15.

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