Region 8

Anaconda Co. Smelter

Anaconda Smelter site location map Site Type: Final NPL
City: Anaconda
County: Deer Lodge
Street Address: 3 miles east of Anaconda
ZIP Code: 59711
EPA ID: MTD093291656
SSID: 0818
Site Aliases: Anaconda Reduction Works
Congressional District: At Large

What's New?

Updated November 2013

EPA has issued an Amendment to the 1996 Record of Decision (ROD) for the Community Soils Operable Unit (OU). The ROD Amendment requires:

  • Clean up of all residential soils exceeding a lead concentration of 400 ppm.
  • Expansion of the Community Protective Measures Program to provide for a health education program to inform residents of the potential risks to lead contamination.
  • Development of an interior dust abatement program to address accessible interior dust exceeding residential actions levels for arsenic and lead.

The ROD Amendment was signed by the EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality on September 27, 2013.

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Site Description

585-foot-tall historic Anaconda Company smelter stack
585-foot-tall historic Anaconda Company smelter stack

The site is located at the southern end of the Deer Lodge Valley, at and near the location of the former Anaconda Minerals Company (AMC) ore processing facilities. In September 1983, the EPA placed the area surrounding the smelter on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Consulting with the State of Montana and coordinating with ARCO, EPA began investigations into the extent of contamination. Since then, removals and cleanup actions have reduced human health risks at the site. ARCO merged with AMC in 1977 and is the potentially responsible party (PRP) at the site. ARCO's liability and EPA's costs are the subject of ongoing litigation.

The site covers an area of approximately 300 square miles. It has a temperate climate and includes a variety of terrain—from steep-slope uplands to level valley floors. There are also a variety of creeks and drainages. Major mining-related features at the site include two very large tailings ponds (the Anaconda Ponds and the Opportunity Ponds) and the former Anaconda smelter stack. At 585 feet tall, the stack is a local landmark and is the largest freestanding brick chimney in the world. There are also two communities (Anaconda and Opportunity) within the site footprint. US Interstate 90 and the Clark Fork River border the site. The Superfund site is divided into a number of Operable Units (OUs)—see Cleanup Progress for an explanation. Two of the OUs (Anaconda Regional Waste Water & Soil [ARWW&S] and the Old Works/East Anaconda Development Area) are further divided into smaller design units.

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Site Risk

The processing facilities at the site were developed to remove copper from ore mined in Butte from about 1884 through 1980. Milling and smelting produced wastes with high concentrations of arsenic, as well as copper, cadmium, lead and zinc. These contaminants pose potential risks to human health, to life in nearby streams, and to plants and animals in adjacent lands over some 300 square miles. In addition to the millions of cubic yards of tailings, furnace slag, flue dust, and square miles of soil contaminated by airborne wastes, millions of gallons of ground water have been polluted from wastes and soils. Arsenic is the primary contaminant of concern and drives the remediation.

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
soils, groundwater, surface water arsenic, copper, cadmium, lead, zinc copper milling and smelting (tailings, slag and areal emissions)

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Cleanup Progress

Ongoing Work

Old Works/East Anaconda Development Area Remedial Action
EPA selected a remedy in 1994 for this OU which has been divided into the following sub-areas:

  1. Golf Course (construction completed in 1996, golf course opened to the public in 1997)
  2. Red Sands (construction completed in 1998)
  3. East Anaconda Yards and Aspen Hills (construction completed in 1998)
  4. Mill Creek (construction completed in 1999)
  5. Drag Strip (construction completed in 1999)
  6. Industrial Area (initiated in 2003). Remedial action will include removal, cover, and/or revegetation of remaining waste and contaminated soils. Construction is underway and should be finished by 2014.

Community Soils Remedial Action
EPA selected a remedy to address remaining residential yards and railroad/commercial properties in 1996. This OU has been divided into the following sub-areas:

  1. Residential soils.
  2. Historic railroad beds and adjacent residential/commercial areas.

This remedial action was initiated in 2003 and is nearly completed. To date Atlantic Richfield has sampled more than 1,700 yards and cleaned up over 350 yards in Anaconda and the surrounding area contaminated by arsenic. Remedial action of the historic railroad beds and adjacent residential/commercial properties is also completed.

EPA has now amended this remedy to include additional remedial action of residential soils contaminated by lead and to address interior and attic dust.

Anaconda Regional Water, Waste and Soils Remedial Action
This last OU addresses all remaining issues. EPA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) in 1998. This ROD was amended in 2011. The OU has been divided into 15 remedial design units (RDUs):

  1. Stucky Ridge
  2. Lost Creek
  3. Smelter Hill Uplands
  4. Anaconda Ponds (construction completed)
  5. Railroad/Blue Lagoon
  6. South Opportunity
  7. North Opportunity
  8. Opportunity Ponds
  9. Fluvial Tailings
  10. Warm Springs Creek
  11. Cashman Concentrate (construction completed)
  12. Slag
  13. Old Works Groundwater
  14. Smelter Hill Facility
  15. Mt. Haggin Uplands

Remedial designs have been completed on all RDUs except number 10 – Warm Springs Creek. Remedial action has been initiated on most RDUs. Nearly 10,000 acres have been remediated to date. Construction is expected to be completed over the next 10 years. Long-term monitoring and maintenance, as well as institutional controls, is required.

Completed Actions

Anaconda Smelter Demolition and Initial Stabilization Actions
From 1983–1986, EPA oversaw smelter demolition and initial stabilization efforts. In May 1986, EPA temporarily relocated families with small children. In 1987–1988, all Mill Creek residents were permanently relocated. The Mill Creek area was later cleaned up, graded and replanted in 1999.

Anaconda Yards Time-Critical Removal Action
From 1991–1992, under an emergency removal action, arsenic contaminated soils were cleaned up in three Anaconda neighborhoods: Teresa Ann Terrace, Elkhorn Apartments and Cedar Park Homes.

Arbiter Non-Time-Critical Removal Action
In 1994, approximately 275,000 cubic yards of waste material (including arsenic, cadmium, lead and zinc) from the Arbiter Plant were dug up, and moved to a repository on Smelter Hill.

Beryllium Non-Time-Critical Removal Action
In 1994, excavation and disposal of previously disposed wastes and contaminated materials from a former beryllium flake metal pilot plant and a beryllium oxide pilot plant was completed. The wastes were sent to the Smelter Hill repository.

Old Works Stabilization Removal Action
In 1992, EPA and ARCO began to address immediate concerns about contaminants released into Warm Springs Creek by stabilizing the Red Sands adjacent to the Creek, repairing breaks in the levees and installing fencing to limit access.

Flue Dust Remedial Action
In 1991, EPA decided to stabilize the Flue dust (containing copper, arsenic and cadmium) with cement and lime, and then place treated materials in a repository. Treatment of over 500,000 cubic yards of flue dust was finished in December 1993.

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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.

In addition to outreach efforts (meetings, fact sheets, websites, etc.), EPA awarded a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) to the Arrowhead Foundation in Anaconda. With these funds, the Arrowhead Foundation hires the Anaconda Environmental Education Institute (AEEI) to review EPA studies and cleanup work and provide a technical analysis. The Arrowhead Foundation board relays information to the larger community. The TAG group is focusing on economic redevelopment and site reuse. Arrowhead welcomes new members and is interested in hearing about the public's concerns with regard to the Superfund cleanup.

The State of Montana and ARCO have settled some of the continuing natural resource damage lawsuit issues, and an advisory group appointed by Montana's governor is educating the public and reviewing proposals for restoring resources.

See the Site Documents section below for the fact sheet and the annual updates.

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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.

Smelter investigations and cleanups have been part of an economic rebirth in this former company town. All cleanups are focused on being protective, while still allowing (and fostering) redevelopment. This is accomplished, in large part, by the use of institutional controls (ICs) for development of land which has a remedy in place. These include a Development Permit System and Master Plan/Growth Policy for all of the properties within the Smelter Overlay Area. Clean-up construction activities in 2009 assisted redevelopment efforts by preparing many acres of land for reuse. Some are noted in the 2010 Annual Update.

Perhaps the greatest example of reuse and redevelopment is the construction of the Old Works Golf Course. This can be seen in the Old Works/East Anaconda Development Area. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the course has been reborn on the site of Anaconda's historic century-old copper smelter. The first course ever built on a federal EPA Superfund site, it incorporates many historic relics in its design. Old Works is quickly building a reputation as one of the premiere, daily-fee golf experiences in the Northwest region. The golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus, and a unique visual feature is the use of ground black smelter slag in place of sand in the sand traps. It was featured in EPA's Superfund 20th Anniversary Report.

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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 remedy calls for a fully-funded Institutional Controls program at the local government level. Anaconda Deer Lodge County (ADLC) is currently working with EPA to develop this program. The program will include a Geographic Information System (GIS), a Development Permit System (DPS) and a Community Protective Measures Program (CPMP). The comprehensive ICs program will ensure monitoring, protection of clean-up actions, public outreach and education and other administrative and/or legal tools to ensure that public health is protected and redevelopment is conducted in a protective manner.

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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

The fourth five-year review was completed in September 2010 and is available in the Site Documents section below.

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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.

Decision Documents

Amendment to the 1996 Record of Decision for the Community Soils Operable Unit (OU16), September 2013

Proposed Plan for Modifications to the Remedy for the Community Soils Operable Unit, September 2012 

Amendment to the 1998 Record of Decision for the Anaconda Regional Water, Waste & Soils Operable Unit (OU4), September 2011 

Proposed Plan for Modifications to the Remedy (ROD Amendment for OU4), November 2009

Fact Sheets

2011 Annual Site Update

2010 Annual Site Update

2009 Anaconda Basics

2008 Annual Site Update

2007 Update: Focus on Opportunity Ponds

2006 Annual Site Update

2006 Dust Fact Sheet

2005 Annual Site Update

Press Releases

EPA to Conduct Sampling, October 29, 2008 

Technical Documents

Update to the Five-Year Review, November 2012 

Focused Feasibility Study Final Report, Community Soils Operable Unit, February 3, 2012

Fourth Five-Year Review Report (text only), September 30, 2010 
Appendices A–C (located on the public FTP server)
Figures 3-1 through 9-7 (located on the public FTP server)

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Charles Coleman
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
Montana Office
Federal Building
10 West 15th Street, Suite 3200
Helena, MT 59626
866-457-2690 (toll free)

Site Information Repositories:

Arrowhead Foundation Library
118 East Seventh Street
Anaconda, MT 59711

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

Montana DEQ

Joel Chavez

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

Community Group

Technical Assistance Grant Group
Arrowhead Foundation
P.O. Box 842
Anaconda, MT 59711

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The following links exit the site Exit

Arrowhead Foundation | Anaconda Superfund TAG

Arrowhead Foundation's Possibilities Campaign

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