Tester, Bullock help lead cleanup efforts in Columbia Falls

(Montana) – After continued prodding from Senator Jon Tester and Governor Steve Bullock, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Glencore announced an agreement today to move forward with cleanup plans for the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) site.

Senator Tester and Governor Bullock have been urging Glencore to come to the table and work with local stakeholders to ensure the contaminated land would be cleaned up. In January, after Glencore walked away from negotiations, Senator Tester sent a letter to the EPA asking them to list CFAC as a superfund site.

“I’m pleased Glencore has finally realized it has an obligation to the people of Columbia Falls,” Tester said. “As this process moves forward, I will continue to hold the company and the EPA responsible for ensuring this site is cleaned up and revitalized so we can continue to strengthen the economy in the Flathead.”

In February, Governor Bullock also urged the EPA to list CFAC as a superfund site.

“I welcome the news that Glencore has recognized its obligations to clean the site and make it ready to once again become a driver of the Flathead economy,” Bullock said. “The plant was a critical part of the economy of Columbia Falls and the site has been idle for too long. It has tremendous potential for redevelopment and will be an important anchor in the future of the region.”

Local stakeholders from across the region thanked Senator Tester and Governor Bullock for their continued efforts in the Flathead Valley.

“It’s good news. We’ve come to a “trust but verify” comfort level. The CFAC people have been straightforward, but the more you know about the corporate culture of the parent company Glencore, you just have to be watchful. We could never have gotten to this place without public officials bringing pressure. From Senator Tester and Governor Bullock to our city officials, they really have served the public here with exemplary determination and focus,” said Columbia Falls Resident and Broker of RE/MAX Mountain View Real Estate Bill Daikin.

“The community of Columbia Falls had no assurances from Glencore that CFAC would ever get cleaned up until Senator Tester and Governor Bullock stepped up. As all parties work toward clean up, we must remain diligent because the health of our land, water, and economy depend on it,” said University of Montana Institute on Ecosystems Senior Scientist Erin Sexton.