Smurfit-Stone chemical ponds at risk of leaking into Clark Fork - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Smurfit-Stone chemical ponds at risk of leaking into Clark Fork

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MISSOULA - As the Clark Fork reaches its highest levels in a century, experts are monitoring the levees at Smurfit-Stone that keep chemical ponds separate from the river.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crew met with Missoula County officials at the former Smurfit-Stone mill site in Frenchtown on Friday. The experts are evaluating the berms that keep the river and chemical pools separated.

The Army Corps were asked to look at the berms for any structural damage.

Jess Jordan, flood leader for the Army Corps of Engineers, says they're taking it seriously because of the potential risk to the public. Breaching the old Smurfit settling ponds could release hazardous chemicals from old milling waste into the Clark Fork. 

"You don't want the river migrating into a site where there's an environmental health concern," Jordan says. "So we want to keep that stuff on the side, and the river out of it."

Jordan says once they've evaluated the mill, engineers will work with Missoula County on how to move forward to ensure the mill is stable and protected from the rising river.

EPA testing has found high levels of toxic substances like dioxins, furans and heavy metals at the Smurfit site.

Smurfit-Stone ceased operations in 2009, and the site is currently owned by M2Green. 

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