COLUMBIA FALLS — Pollution at the closed Columbia Falls aluminum plant qualifies it as a Superfund site, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it wants the public's support before moving with the cleanup process.
An EPA study found cyanide, arsenic, lead and fluoride in the groundwater in and around the plant. The contamination was more concentrated in percolation ponds and the plant's landfill. Low levels of arsenic were found in two of five residential wells tested in a nearby neighborhood, officials said.
EPA officials said adding the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. site to the National Priorities List would lead to more extensive testing at the 120-acre site.
"We want to begin an ongoing dialogue with the community about this site," said Rob Parker, the EPA's site assessment manger to residents of Columbia Falls on Tuesday.
Those in attendance said they supported the cleanup, the newspaper reported.
Site assessment team leader Victor Ketellapper told residents to contact their local, state and federal leaders to share their thoughts on the proposed listing.
Superfund is a federal environmental program established to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites.
The Anaconda Co. opened the aluminum plant in 1955. It operated under several different owners until 2009, when current owner Glencore, closed the plant.