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‘A belated but sincere thank you’

| February 14, 2024 2:00 AM

It has been at least eight years since Mayor Barnhart and members of the Columbia Falls City Council began the long journey of speaking up for and representing residents of Columbia Falls by calling for the clean-up and the removal of the toxic waste that has been left behind at the now closed Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) smelter site. They, alone, rightfully identified the unacceptable risks that leaving this toxic waste in place puts on our water, our health, our community, and our economy for generations to come.

Attending extra meetings, reading through multi-hundred-page documents, and providing comments, all about the proposed clean-up and future restoration of the CFAC smelter site, were just some of the many duties the mayor and council shouldered over this period.  Yet they have been the community’s strong voice at the negotiating table all these years consistently calling for the removal of the remaining toxic waste and opposing the current waste-in-place solution that CFAC and ARCO –both large multi-national corporations--continue to push.

The Coalition for a Clean CFAC , as a new and growing grassroots advocate for the removal of the toxic waste at the CFAC site, wanted in this letter to recognize and express our sincere appreciation for the steadfast leadership and determination shown by the Mayor and Council in calling for the removal of toxic waste and the clean-up of the CFAC site for so many years. And so, as something of a timely but belated Valentine we want to give the Mayor and Council a huge shout out for all the countless hours of volunteer time you have donated to lead the City of Columbia Falls in an on-going fight to see the CFAC site properly cleaned up.

And to the public at large, we want to remind you that it is so important that you too speak up now as the EPA approaches a final decision on the clean-up plan for CFAC. Please sign the petition at CleanCFAC.org calling for the removal of the toxic waste, and for the federal  EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to hold off on a final cleanup decision until a fair and independent evaluation of the cost-benefits of removing the highly toxic waste is conducted. Better yet, email us at coalition@cleancfac.org and volunteer to help collect signatures.

The Coalition for a Clean CFAC steering committee: Mayre Flowers—Citizens for a Better Flathead, Shirley Folkwein—Upper Flathead Neighborhood Association, Phil Matson and Peter Metcalf—Columbia Falls residents.