Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Montana toxins case has ramifications for South Dakota


The Montana Standard based in Butte is trying to sort out responsibility for toxins deposited in Silver Bow Creek by Atlantic Richfield Co. How the State of Montana and the US Environmental Protection Agency should pursue the cleanup remains a mystery.
In the Butte Superfund cleanup, the longest-running Kabuki production this side of the Pacific, what appears to be rational is routinely dismissed as fantasy, and what appears to be real is frequently revealed to be chimera. The state would not wait for EPA and ARCO to hem and haw and trade favors in secret negotiations even as they held their masks and recited their tired lines onstage. As The Montana Standard has surveyed this landscape over the past year and a half, we have repeatedly raised the issue of transparency. We all know this is the largest Superfund site in the nation. We all know this Superfund litigation spans nearly two decades. Let’s try bringing the citizens into the room, and holding both those responsible for the pollution and our public agencies accountable in real time. [It's time to unmask the Superfund talks once and for all]
Downstream in Missoula concern over toxins runs deep.

Nearly a century of residue from Black Hills Mining District affects millions of cubic yards of riparian habitat all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Although the Oahe Dam was completed in 1962 sequestering most of the silt the soils of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers are inculcated with arsenic at levels that have killed cattle. Endangered pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, catfish and most other organisms cope with lethal levels of mercury throughout the South Dakota portion of the Missouri River. Tailings from uranium mining have been detected in Angostura Reservoir in the southern Black Hills and in northwestern South Dakota cleanup in the Cave Hills area went for decades without remediation.

Ellsworth Air Force Base is already a Superfund site leaching contaminants into Box Elder Creek, a tributary of the Cheyenne River. The former Gilt Edge Mine south of Deadwood is a Superfund site leaching contaminants into Elk Creek also a tributary of the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers.

Canadian miner Barrick Gold bought off the State of South Dakota for Homestake Mining Company's role in polluting Whitewood Creek by trading land in Spearfish Canyon for a proposed state park.

South Dakota's earth hater US senators and attorney general are leading a crusade to block the US Environmental Protection Agency from identifying non-point sources of pollution deposited into watersheds by their GOP donors.

Barrick Mining Company is on the hook for most of the worst shit: it's armed to the teeth with a bank of lawyers and lobbyists. The State enjoyed royalties and severance taxes. In another government land grab Barrick is engaged in negotiations that would trade property in Spearfish Canyon to the State of South Dakota belonging to tribal signatories of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Former Deadwood businessman Dave Miller just wrote a letter to the Rapid City Journal opposing the state land grab in Spearfish Canyon.

With help from former Homestake land manager now Sturgis real estate broker, Denny McKay, former US Senator Tom Daschle sold out the people of South Dakota and the tribal nations trapped within its borders by drafting legislation holding Barrick harmless.

On the east side of the Continental Divide Barrick also operates the Golden Sunlight Mine near Whitehall, Montana. Effluent from that mine goes into the Jefferson River also a tributary of the Missouri and much of it lies in repose within Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

It's time for South Dakota's press to investigate the collusion between the state and polluters instead of pandering to the South Dakota Republican Party.

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