AMERICAN CHEMET TO INVESTIGATE CONTAMINATION
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached an agreement with American Chemet Corp., Deefield, Illinois, to investigate hazardous substance contamination and to conduct any necessary cleanup actions at the company’s property within the East Helena, Montana, Superfund site. The agreement, lodged as a consent decree in U.S. District Court, District of Montana, Helena Division is subject to a 30-day public comment period that began on July 1, 2016.
The East Helena Superfund site is located in and around the city of East Helena, Lewis & Clark County, Montana. The site includes the decommissioned Asarco smelter, the adjacent Chemet industrial facility, properties with the city limits, as well as residential subdivisions and rural properties in surrounding areas.
The agreement with Chemet will characterize environmental contamination and determine cleanup needs at the company’s East Helena industrial facility, a seven-acre manufacturing plant that produces copper and zinc products. Known and suspected contaminants at the site include lead and arsenic. Chemet is required to begin the investigation of the property this year.
The East Helena Superfund site was placed on EPA’s National Priorities List in 1984. Since that time, EPA has worked with Asarco LLC, to remediate lead and arsenic contaminated soils in residential yards and other areas of the site. As a result of the Asarco bankruptcy, the former smelter is now owned by the Montana Environmental Trust Group. Since appointed by the bankruptcy court in 2009, the Trust has been conducting corrective action, with EPA oversight, to address contamination at Upper Lake, Lower Lake, Prickly Pear Creek and its riparian corridor, and all groundwater at the site. Remediation of residential properties is nearly finished, leaving some commercial property, undeveloped property and railroad right-of-ways to be addressed.
Established in 1946, Chemet has facilities in Montana, Tennessee and Illinois. The company is a privately owned manufacturer and marketer of zinc and copper-based chemicals used, among other things, in agriculture and in aquatic and marine environments.