Monday, April 15, 2024
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Productive meeting

| March 27, 2024 2:00 AM

The momentum is increasing daily in the effort requesting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pause in their decision-making process to fully and fairly evaluate the cost benefits of removing (not leaving) the toxic waste at the CFAC (Columbia Falls Aluminum Co.) Superfund site northeast of Columbia Falls.  

On March 14, Coalition for a Clean CFAC Steering Committee members met in Helena with EPA ad DEQ leadership including Carolina Balliew, MT EPA Supervisor and others from EPA, and Chris Dorrington, Director of MT DEQ and others from DEQ regarding the Proposed Plan for cleanup. This meeting provided an opportunity for EPA, DEQ and the Coalition to share information, ideas, and goals regarding the cleanup.  

It was a productive meeting opening new lines of communication.  All parties are aware of the need for an agreed upon time-frame and shared vision regarding any pause in the process.  An exchange of ideas regarding this proposed pause are currently on-going.  We are very grateful that EPA and DEQ agreed to further explore this potential pause.

The Coalition also attended the Montana Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council meeting which had the CFAC Superfund site on their agenda for review.  The response from the members was encouraging with the Council offering their help with our effort, as did individual members.  Available at: https://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00309/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20240318/-1/50464. 

The lists of 1,400 Flathead Valley petition signers and 12 organizations representing more than 15,000 constituents were presented at both meetings.

Additionally, Flathead County Commissioners sent a letter to the EPA asking for a postponement of the Record of Decision;  CF City Council sent a letter in 2021 requesting removal of the toxic waste; MT Natural Resource Damage Program along with the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe and U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture will be assessing the CFAC site.

The Coalition for a Clean CFAC is a grassroots effort of Valley residents requesting the EPA take a time-out from making their Record of Decision this spring.  EPA, in their Proposal for Cleanup and in their public presentations indicated they had not fully considered removing the toxic waste because it was too expensive.  The Coalition is in the process of applying for a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) to include the public in better understanding the Proposed Plan.

Thank you to all who have supported this effort critical to our human and environmental health for generations to come.    For more information and to sign the petition requesting the pause in decision-making go to cleancfac.org

Shirley Folkwein

Coalition for a Clean CFAC