NPL Site Narrative for ACM Smelter and Refinery
ACM SMELTER AND REFINERY
Cascade County, Montana
The site is a former metals refinery adjacent to the unincorporated community of Black Eagle along the Missouri River in Cascade County, Montana. The City of Great Falls is located across the Missouri River from the site.
The Boston & Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Mining Company began construction of the first smelter at the 427-acre metals refinery site in 1892. Primary products from activities at the site were copper, zinc, arsenic, and cadmium. Operations began in 1893 when ore from mines in Butte, Montana, was concentrated, smelted, and refined. Electrolytic and furnace refineries also operated at the site. The property was acquired by Anaconda Copper Mining Company in 1910. Smelting and refining activities continued at the facility until the early 1970s. The property again changed hands in 1977 when these holdings were purchased by Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCo). The plant began closure in 1973. ARCo has conducted limited cleanup of the former facility, but the site has never been under an approved cleanup program with EPA or the state. A recycling facility and golf course currently remain on a portion of the site.
The plant stack was designed to emit lead, arsenic, and other metals in emissions. As a regular practice, tailings, smelter wastes, slag, and flue dust were dumped into the Missouri River until 1915, after which most wastes were deposited on site. The state estimated 27.5 to 31 million tons of slag and tailings were dumped directly into the river. Contaminants associated with these sources included antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, and zinc.
Potential Impacts on Surrounding Community/Environment:
In 2007 and 2008, EPA soil studies of residential yards in Black Eagle found approximately 45% of the sampled yards had elevated levels of lead and/or arsenic. Stack deposition from the smelter between 1893 and 1972 is most likely responsible for yard contamination. Residents reported that some of their housing was constructed using materials from the site. In 2004, the Missouri River was found to be contaminated from dumping and site runoff. These wastes are widespread and have been identified in the river at Fort Benton, 34 miles downstream from the site. The Missouri River is a fishery for area residents.
Response Activities (to date):
There have been no response activities to date.
Need for NPL Listing:
Montana referred the site to EPA in 2002. More recently, Cascade County sent a letter to Montana expressing their support for listing. Other federal cleanup programs were evaluated, but are not viable because of the complexity of the site and the need for enforcement mechanisms. EPA received a letter of support for placing this site on the NPL from the Governor.
[The description of the site (release) is based on information available at the time the site was evaluated with the HRS. The description may change as additional information is gathered on the sources and extent of contamination. See 56 FR 5600, February 11, 1991, or subsequent FR notices.]
For more information about the hazardous substances identified in this narrative summary, including general information regarding the effects of exposure to these substances on human health, please see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs. ATSDR ToxFAQs can be found on the Internet at ATSDR - ToxFAQs (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp) or by telephone at 1-888-42-ATSDR or 1-888-422-8737.