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EPA presents findings on Smurfit contamination

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Nov 08 2012 07:07:06 PM MST
FRENCHTOWN, Mont. -

A new chapter is unfolding over toxic contaminants found at Frenchtown's old Smurfit Stone pulp mill.

The Environmental Protection Agency will present findings from tests conducted last summer at a public meeting Thursday evening.

None of the chemicals found are healthy.

There are heavy metals like arsenic, magnesium and lead.

There are dioxins and furans, which cause cancer.

The EPA said some of the contaminants have migrated to shallow groundwater.

Some, said scientists, have migrated from on site to the Clark Fork River.

EPA said shallow groundwater underneath the site is contaminated.

Individual, private wells were tested in the area turned up clean.

EPA said despite its findings, sampling results do not indicate an emergency.

The Clark Fork Coalition has recommended the area be designated as a Superfund site.

"That's the only way that EPA can go back and do additional analysis at this site," said Dr. Chris Brick, from the Clark Fork Coalition."It's really clear they need to do that. This study indicates that there are very toxic substances there, and we need to find out where they are, and where they are moving."

Brick is interested in finding out where EPA didn't sample.

She said the study just scratches the surface.

Whether it's Superfund or not, a cleanup doesn't have to take forever, said the scientist.

Brick said Smurfit is a good site for industrial redevelopment because it's been an industrial area, and  infrastructure already exists.

In a statement, M2 Green, the mill's new owner, said "it's already begun discussions with EPA and will work in cooperation with them, and the state to remediate the area."

The main thing is getting it cleaned up,said Missoula County commissioner Bill Carey,"Right now, it's a threat to public health and safety."