By Jonathon Ambarian, excerpt from KTVH Helena, December 9, 2020
HELENA — A big change is coming to East Helena’s slag pile, as leaders have announced plans to remove 2 million tons of material to be reprocessed.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Montana Environmental Trust Group held an online public meeting Tuesday to give a yearly update on cleanup and restoration work at the former ASARCO smelter site.
During the meeting, leaders announced Metallica Commodities Corp., a New York company, had agreed to take the top layer of material from the slag pile and ship it to South Korea. There, Korea Zinc Company will recycle the slag – extracting zinc and other metals and preparing the leftover material to be used in cement.
“It’s really a full, ultimate recycling,” said Cindy Brooks, managing principal with METG.
Brooks said this material is by far the largest source of selenium in the East Helena area – thought to be responsible for around three-quarters of groundwater contamination.
“For us, this is really a source removal project; it’s a project to remove the primary source of contamination that’s still out there,” she said.