Slag dust woes yield agreement for an accelerated launch of covering the material

DUNCAN ADAMS

ANACONDA — The bulldozer resembled a child’s Tonka toy in juxtaposition with the massive heap of black slag atop which the heavy equipment operator toiled last week.

The task ahead appears daunting.

The Atlantic Richfield Co. and the EPA agreed to accelerate efforts to cover a portion of the slag heap with soil and a vegetative cap. That work, tackled by a contractor hired by Atlantic Richfield, requires reducing the steep slope of the slag pile to allow the soil and seed to take hold.

Originally, the work was supposed to begin in 2025. But officials in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County grew weary of the gritty, arsenic-bearing slag dust blowing across Montana Highway 1.

“The trigger was really a dust problem,” said Charlie Coleman, EPA’s remedial project manager for the Anaconda Co. Smelter Superfund Site.

Carl Hamming, planning director for Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, concurred.

“Both parties agreed that covering up at least a portion of the slag pile sooner than 2025 was a benefit to all,” Hamming said.

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“We’ve had issues at our wastewater treatment plant from windblown slag,” he said. “And by covering up the most wind-prone portions of the pile,

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