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Cleanup to start at former smelter

GREAT FALLS – Cleanup of contaminated waste material from a former copper refinery and smelter near Great Falls will begin this summer, a Superfund project manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

Charlie Coleman said work will begin at three hot spots where elevated levels of heavy metals including lead and arsenic have been found.

The EPA in March added the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. site in Black Eagle to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. Copper smelting took place there from 1893 to 1980.

EPA officials also plan to test yards in Black Eagle at the request of residents concerned about contamination. It’s possible the smokestack at the smelter might have deposited contaminants in the town.

If workers find contamination, Coleman said, the yards could be cleaned up within two years.