Tester: CFAC Superfund Designation Will Guarantee Glencore is Held Accountable
Local Leaders Praise Decision that Ensures Contaminated Site is Properly Cleaned Up and Taxpayers Arenâ??t Stuck with the Bill
(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today is applauding a decision to designate the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) plant as a Superfund site and hold Glencore accountable to families in the Flathead Valley.
Tester was joined by community leaders, business owners, and local families to praise the Superfund designation that ensures Glencore is financially responsible for the clean-up and restoration of the CFAC site, which sits between Columbia Falls and Glacier National Park. The Superfund cleanup process will help return the site to a productive and safe state for future economic development and recreational opportunities.
"Glencore can no longer try and turn their back on families in Columbia Falls," Tester said. "This decision guarantees that after seven years of broken promises and stonewalling, Glencore will finally be held accountable for the cleanup of CFAC. Today is a step in the right direction and I will continue to work with folks in Columbia Falls so we can strengthen the local economy, revitalize this site, and create jobs."
Other members of the Columbia Falls community also applauded the decision:
"The EPA has announced its final decision on our shuttered aluminum plant. I, for one, laud it. This plant is located in the County, not Columba Falls, but the location of the problem materials that are buried jeopardizes the whole river and well system. Columbia Falls City Council led the way on asking Sen. Tester for his help and we are thankful he has stepped up. Now because of this listing, we will grow stronger and create more jobs in the region," said Mike Shepherd, Columbia Falls City Council.
"In life, timing can be everything and for the town we all lovingly call CFalls, the time is now. So much new life is being pumped into our town and a veritable cleanup within the town, is already in the works. However, lying smugly due east of our home, is a very ugly neighbor. An international company called Glencore, abandoned its responsibility of a thorough clean up; risking water quality, river and stream health, wildlife and soil vitality. I hear people talk about a quick cleanup and a hurry up mentality so that we can reclaim this property, and utilize its location for industry and recreation. We don't want a quick and careless cleanup. A half a century of pollution will take many years to cleanse and untarnish," said O'Brien Byrd, owner of O'Brien's Liquor in Columbia Falls. "Jon Tester has been siding with the business leaders and families of Columbia Falls in helping hold Glencore accountable. Let's stop sweeping this issue under the rug before it rears its ugly head and causes some serious health concerns for our generation of children and our children's children. Don't be afraid of the label Superfund site, embrace it because it will strengthen our economy."
"I am for CFAC becoming a superfund site because after the 36 plus years working there I saw a lot of materials dumped and buried on the site. The site needs to be cleaned up properly and professionally. I also believe that Glencore should be responsible for the costs because they knew what they were getting from day one when purchasing the plant," said Keith Haverfield, former CFAC employee.
The Superfund designation will guarantee:
• Additional resources to clean up contamination
• Work to reduce the risk of exposure to the community
• Public involvement in the clean-up process
• Glencore is held accountable for the cost of cleanup
Last year, Tester requested the EPA list CFAC as a Superfund site to ensure Glencore fulfilled its responsibility to clean up the site contamination. This request came weeks after the international corporation walked away from negotiations with local leaders in Columbia Falls and threatened to leave local taxpayers with the multi-million dollar clean-up bill.
In March, Tester toured CFAC with Glencore and local officials to reiterate his commitment to getting the site cleaned up. In July he hosted a roundtable discussion in Columbia Falls to talk about how to strengthen the economy in the Flathead.
The Superfund listing has been endorsed by the Columbia Falls City Council, Flathead Basin Commission, Glacier National Park, and several local business owners.
Tester first began working on this issue in 2009 after Glencore closed the plant and laid off nearly 200 employees. A timeline of Tester's fight to protect families in Columbia Falls and his commitment to cleaning up CFAC is available HERE.