Region 8

ACM Smelter and Refinery

ACM Smelter and Refinery site location map Site Type: Final NPL
City: Black Eagle/Great Falls
County: Cascade
Street Address: River Road North, 1 mile E. of 15th Street
ZIP Code: 59414
EPA ID: MTD093291599
SSID: 0819
Site Aliases: AMC Great Falls Refinery, Anaconda Copper & Zinc Refinery
Congressional District: At large

What's New?

Updated February 2012

In September 2011, Atlantic Richfield agreed to conduct remedial investigations on community soils within and adjacent to the community of Black Eagle. Sampling of residential yards began in October 2011 and will continue through the 2012 field season. The RI/FS work plan is currently being developed. As part of this agreement, Atlantic Richfield paid $1,050,000 to EPA for past costs. Copies of the agreement and sampling plan are located in the information repository located at the Black Eagle Community Center.

In November 2011, EPA removed approximately 1,200 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the Moose Lodge property in Black Eagle. The soil was disposed of at the High Plains landfill. The property is currently being developed for residential housing. Copies of the decision document and completion report are located in the information repositories.

In December 2011, EPA ordered BNSF Railway to conduct remedial investigations on the abandoned railroad through Black Eagle. The RI/FS work plan is currently being developed. Sampling is anticipated to begin in 2012. A copy of this order is located in the community repository.

A Community Involvement Plan (CIP) has been prepared for the community affected by the former ACM Smelter and Refinery site. The CIP guides EPA's and DEQ's communications and interactions with the community as part of the Superfund process. A hard copy of the plan is available for reading at the Black Eagle Community Center along with other ACM site documents.


On March 10, 2011 EPA, with support from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, announced the addition of the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. (ACM) Smelter and Refinery site in Cascade County, Montana, to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites.

Being on the Superfund list makes the site eligible for federal cleanup funds that will support an extensive investigation and a comprehensive cleanup using the Superfund process while EPA coordinates the work with potentially responsible parties, and seeks to recover costs from responsible parties when federal dollars are used. Listing also guarantees public participation in cleanup decisions, provides opportunities for a qualified community group to receive a technical assistance grant, and authorizes the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to initiate a health assessment in the area.

You may view the press release announcing the addition of ACM to the National Priorities List (NPL). More information about other sites added to the NPL can be found at this national EPA page.

See the Site Documents section below for documents pertaining to the site's NPL listing. To understand more about the rule-making process and to access supporting documentation and responses to comments, you may view the site docket at regulations.gov.

Records on the ACM Smelter and Refinery site can be viewed at either of the Information Repositories listed below.

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Site Description

The site is a former metals refinery adjacent to the unincorporated community of Black Eagle along the Missouri River in Cascade County, Montana. The city of Great Falls is located across the Missouri River from the site.

The Boston & Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Mining Company began construction of the first smelter at the 427-acre metals refinery site in 1892, which was operated by many in the adjacent community of Black Eagle. Primary products from activities at the site were copper, zinc, arsenic and cadmium. Operations began in 1893 when ore from mines in Butte, Montana was concentrated, smelted and refined. Electrolytic and furnace refineries also operated at the site. The property was acquired by Anaconda Copper Mining Company in 1910. Copper was made into commercially useful shapes. Smelting and refining activities continued at the facility until the early 1970s. The property again changed hands in 1977, when these holdings were purchased by Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCo). The plant began closure in 1973. ARCo has conducted minor cleanup of the former facility, and the site has never been under an approved cleanup program with the EPA or state. Only a recycling facility and golf course currently remain on site.

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Site Risk

Site Contamination/Contaminants

The plant stack was designed to eject lead, arsenic and other metals in wastes from the processes. As a regular practice, tailings, smelter wastes, slag and flue dust were dumped into the Missouri River until 1915, when most wastes were to be deposited on-site. The state estimated 27.5 to 31 million tons of slag and tailings were dumped directly into the river. Contaminants associated with these sources included antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and zinc.

Potential Impacts on Surrounding Community/Environment

EPA soil studies in 2007 and 2008 of residential yards in Black Eagle found approximately 45 percent of the yards sampled contained elevated levels of lead, arsenic or both. Deposition from the smelter smoke stacks between 1893 and 1972 is most likely responsible. Gardening is a popular activity in the community. Residents reported that some of their housing was constructed using materials from the site. In 2004, the Missouri River was found to be contaminated from dumping and on-site runoff. These wastes are widespread and have been identified in the river at Ft. Benton, 34 miles downstream from the site. The Missouri River is a fishery and the fish are consumed by residents.

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
surface water, groundwater, soils antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, zinc copper/zinc smelting and refining

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Cleanup Progress

In November 2011, EPA removed approximately 1,200 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the Moose Lodge property. The soil was disposed in the High Plains landfill. The property is anticipated to be developed for residential housing. Copies of the decision document and completion report are located in the information repositories.

EPA has completed and released results of the Black Eagle Railroad Bed Subsurface Investigation. The Data Summary Report with all the tables and figures is available at the information repository at the Black Eagle Community Center. The main report, containing the data summary, is available in the Site Documents section below.

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Community Involvement

Community involvement plays an important role in the Superfund process. EPA uses a number of different tools and resources to promote effective, on-going, meaningful community involvement. The goals of the Superfund community involvement program are to:
  • Keep communities affected by sites informed throughout the cleanup process.
  • Provide opportunities for communities to comment and offer their input about site cleanup plans.
  • Facilitate the resolution of community issues tied to a site.
A Community Involvement Plan (CIP) has been prepared for the community affected by the former ACM Smelter and Refinery site. The CIP guides EPA's and DEQ's communications and interactions with the community as part of the Superfund process. A hard copy of the plan is available for reading at the Black Eagle Community Center along with other ACM site documents.

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Reuse

EPA places a high priority on land reuse as part of its Superfund response program mission. The agency tries to select cleanup options that encourage and support future use of a site. EPA uses two fundamental methods to facilitate reuse of Superfund sites:

  • Exploring future uses before the cleanup remedy is implemented, an approach that gives the Agency the best chance of designing cleanup remedies to support the likely future use of a site.
  • Working with landowners and communities to remove barriers not considered necessary for the protection of human health or the environment at those sites where remedies are already in place.

One option for reuse is the siting of clean and renewable energy projects on contaminated (or formerly contaminated) lands. As part of this effort, EPA is evaluating the potential for energy projects on these properties and working with landowners and communities to identify ways to remove barriers to such projects.

Recreational Trails, Inc. (RTI) is a volunteer, non-profit corporation that works with agency partners to develop, extend and maintain River's Edge Trail. The group is interested in establishing a multi-use trail link between the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center Foundation property and the Black Eagle raceway parking lot, through Atlantic Richfield property. EPA has met with RTI and the city of Great Falls to discuss their goals. Trail proponents wish to work with all landowners and parties involved in investigation and cleanup to facilitate trail development for the enjoyment of Black Eagle and Great Falls residents and tourists.

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Land Use Controls and Other Institutional Controls

Land use controls are the most common type of institutional control (IC). ICs are administrative or legal controls that help reduce the likelihood for human exposure to contamination. ICs can also help protect the integrity of the remedy. Examples of ICs are:

  • Zoning ordinances.
  • Environmental covenants.
  • Deed notices.
  • Well-drilling restrictions.
  • Building permits.
  • Informational advisories.

The site is not yet subject to Institutional Controls because it has just been listed in the NPL.

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Five-Year Reviews

EPA or the lead agency conducts five-year reviews following the start of a Superfund cleanup when contamination is left on the site. These reviews are repeated every five years. We use these reviews to determine:

  • How the remedy is working.
  • If the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment.

Five-year reviews are not yet required at this site.

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Site Documents

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.Community Involvement Plan, June 30, 2011

Data Summary Report: Black Eagle Railroad Bed Subsurface Investigation, February 28, 2011

Final Listing documents

Proposed Listing documents

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Contacts

EPA

Charles Coleman
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
Montana Office
Federal Building
10 W. 15th Street, Suite 3200
Helena, MT 59626
406-457-5038
406-457-5056 FAX
coleman.charles@epa.gov


Site Information Repositories

Black Eagle Community Center
2332 Smelter Avenue
Black Eagle, MT 59414
406-453-4736

EPA Superfund Records Center
Montana Office
10 West 15th Street, Suite 3200
Helena, MT 59626
406-457-5046
866-457-2690 (toll free)
Hours: M-F, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

MDEQ

Dick Sloan

Project Manager
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
1100 North Last Chance Gulch
P.O. Box 200901
Helena, MT 59620-0901
406-841-5046
800-246-8198 (toll free in-state only)
rsloan@mt.gov

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Photo/Video Gallery

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Links

National Priorities List; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; ACM Smelter and Refinery Docket ID:EPA-HQ-SFUND-2010-0072 at Regulations.gov

Montana Department of Environmental Quality – Federal Superfund Program Exit

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

River's Edge Trail (Recreational Trails, Inc.) Exit

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