Columbia Falls Aluminum Plant Could Be A Superfund Site - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Columbia Falls Aluminum Plant Could Be A Superfund Site

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COLUMBIA FALLS -

The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company has been closed for years, but it's still making headlines.

The latest EPA study found arsenic, cyanide, and lead in rivers, in the ground, and even in well water near the plant.

There's not much going on at the plant nowadays, at least not much you can see. Last Friday, the EPA sent out a report detailing some of the contaminants they found around the plant.

"We don't have any data at this point that is particularly alarming," said Robert Parker, a sight assessment manager with the EPA, "and so I want to make sure that that is known. You know, we do have some questions that would be answered if more investigation is completed."

Parker says what they found is enough to know they're going to be doing more studies. Specifically, they detected cyanide in the ground, the Flathead River, and some nearby wells. At this point, it's under the maximum level allowed in drinking water set by the EPA, but there's no guarantee it will stay that way and people like Tony Troiano are already worried.

"They were burying contaminants back here and if it were to get into the ground or somewhere where she is playing, we really don't let her drink the water out of the faucet," said Troiano.

One of the scarier possibilities is that contaminants could just be sitting underneath the plant and continue to leak into the groundwater over the coming years, but to find out if that's actually the case they're going to have to do a lot more research like this study.

"There needs to be some sort of clean up done, for sure," said Troiano.

What's next is the question. Maybe the bigger question is, though, how are we going to pay for it. Parker says one way is the Federal Superfund's National Priority List. Technically, the plant qualifies.

This may not be good enough for Troiano.

"They need to be held accountable for what they've done. They can't just be an out-of-country company and get away with whatever they want," said Troiano.

Some residents aren't waiting for cleanup efforts to begin.

"Some of them even with young children are putting their houses on the market to sell and move out because, you know, there is a chance and we don't want it for our kids," said Troiano.

Tuesday, the EPA is having a town hall to talk about the report, what happens next, and other funding routes besides the Superfund.

It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia Falls Fire Hall.

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