East Helena School Board to vote on acquiring Dartman Field

Marga Lincoln, Excerpt from the Helena Independent Record

The East Helena School District’s purchase agreement to acquire Dartman Field is on the agenda for Monday’s board of trustees’ meeting 5:30 p.m. at East Valley Middle School Library.

“This is the purchase of 50 acres that will hopefully set the district up to accommodate the growth of enrollment for 40 or 50 years into the future,” wrote school superintendent Ron Whitmoyer in a text message.

“The deal is finally on its hopefully firm road to conclusion,” he wrote, adding that he wasn’t “sure about it until Thursday.”

The title for the parcel of land is held by the Montana Environmental Trust Group, which acquired it when Asarco filed and emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, according to Whitmoyer and information on METG’s website.

At that time, the trust received funding to cleanup four contaminated Asarco sites in Montana, including land in East Helena, the website states.

Dartman Field has lead contamination, said Whitmoyer, as did the properties where Radley School and EVMS are located — which had lead remediation work done in the past.

The school district has a grant in progress, he said, to clean up Dartman Field and “make it suitable for students.”

‘It’s pretty clear what we need to do’: cleanup of East Helena smelter site in full swing

By Tom Kuglin, from the Helena Independent Record

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Next year’s East Helena Asarco site cleanup plan to be presented

By Eve Byron, from the Helena Independent Record

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New channel for Prickly Pear Creek

By Eve Byron, from the Helena Independent Record

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Changing channels

By Eve Byron, from the Helena Independent Record

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Burned Asarco house to be used for bomb, fire training

Eve Byron, Excerpt from the Helena Independent Record

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Structure demolition resumes at former Asarco lead smelter site

By Eve Byron, from Independent Record, reprinted in Billings Gazette

Editorial: New era in cleanup commendable

By Independent Record – An IR View | Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One look at year-over-year maps showing the underground arsenic and selenium plumes emanating from the old Asarco site in East Helena are enough to give residents, let alone environmental officials in charge of the cleanup, a great deal of pause.

Individual maps dating back a few years show “fingered” plumes reaching out toward the valley like a hand from the Asarco site. Stacked together, the maps collectively make it look like the elevated levels of arsenic and selenium are expanding, and quickly.

But looks can be deceiving, and the truth is as opaque as the big pile of black slag sitting there at the site of the former lead smelter.

Read more: http://helenair.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_7c4e611e-f6ce-11df-89ff-001cc4c03286.html

Groundwater Investigation: Elusive elements

By EVE BYRON Independent Record | Posted: Sunday, November 21

As the yard removal portion of the Asarco cleanup effort in East Helena is winding down, work on dealing with the arsenic and selenium plumes is just gearing up.

While the Environmental Protection Agency has known for a decade that the underground arsenic plume is flowing from the former lead-smelting plant toward one of East Helena’s city water wells and individual wells in the Helena valley, it hasn’t come up with a solution for dealing with it. Muddying the arsenic-plume situation was the discovery in 2006 of a plume of selenium in the groundwater that’s moving in the same general direction.

Asarco led the plume monitoring and analyzing effort in conjunction with the EPA, with thousands of water samples analyzed. But now that Asarco no longer is in the picture due to a year-old bankruptcy agreement, the EPA and the newly formed Montana Environmental Custodial Trust have brought in a trio of new faces to figure out what’s been done in the past, where data is missing, and how to move forward with a permanent solution that will protect the community’s health.

Read more: http://helenair.com/news/article_22e2b864-f53e-11df-89ca-001cc4c03286.html

Former Company Housing Demolition: ASARCO homes to be demolished

By EVE BYRON Independent Record | Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Former Asarco-owned residences in East Helena are being demolished as part of the ongoing cleanup effort.

As soon as NorthWestern Energy cuts all power to the homes on South Montana Avenue, adjacent to the former lead smelter site, all but one of the eight structures there will be torn down, according to Cindy Brooks, who heads the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust. The trust was created to hold on to Asarco’s Montana properties until they’re sold under a settlement agreement with the bankrupt company.

The former Asarco manager’s house, built in 1888, may be eligible for listing on the National Registry of Historic Places and might be restored as some type of museum or community center.

Read more: http://helenair.com/news/article_d9081d16-ec90-11df-a878-001cc4c002e0.html