Fish study prompts Clark Fork Coalition to urge Superfund designation at old Smurfit mill


Clark Fork Coalition urges Superfund designation at old Smurfit mill after fish study

MISSOULA, Mont. - A prominent conservation group in Missoula is making a new push to get the old Smurfit-Stone mill site cleaned up.

That's after a state report found dangerous levels of carcinogens in Northern Pike and Rainbow Trout downstream from the former mill.

It has prompted a state advisory for a stretch of the Clark Fork from its confluence of the Bitterroot River in Missoula, to the confluence of the Flathead River near Paradise.

The Clark Coalition said more than ever it's convinced the mill site needs Superfund designation. The Coalition points to a warning to not eat Northern Pike and to limit your diet of Rainbow Trout as proof of what is in sludge ponds at the old Smurfit site -- cancer causing agents.

The coalition's science director, Dr. Chris Brick, points to an EPA report that found cancer carcinogens on the Smurfit site as a link between the contaminated fish, and the pollution found at part of the mill.

The Clark Fork Coalition wants the site cleaned up as soon as possible.

"Clearly there are environmental and ecological effects from these contaminants," said Dr. Brick. "But now we also know there are human impacts."

A development company bought the old mill site. M2 Green has said many times it wants to avoid a Superfund designation and to clean up the site itself. That hasn't happened.

NBC Montana called the company, but we did not receive a call back at news time Friday afternoon.

"I think toxic material in sludge ponds needs to be removed first," said Brick, "and needs to be put in a safe repository that could be built on site."

EPA is still determining whether Smurfit will be an official Superfund site.

"Think about the birds, herons, osprey and potentially the mammals such as mink or otter that might be eating those fish as well," said Brick.

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