IMMEDIATE RELEASE: U.S. EPA and METG to Hold Public Meeting about Former ASARCO Smelter Site in East Helena December 13

EAST HELENA, MT (December 8, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Montana Environmental Trust Group (METG), Trustee of the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust, will host a public meeting on Tuesday, December 13 at 6 p.m. to discuss cleanup and redevelopment progress and plans at the former ASARCO East Helena Smelter Site (the Site).

The meeting will provide the community an opportunity to hear updates and ask questions about various topics including:

  • Remediation and restoration of an 80-acre parcel along Prickly Pear Creek (east of Wylie Drive) was recently completed to enhance migratory bird habitat and pave the way for opening the Greenway Trail. See photos 1 and 2.
  • The removal of the temporary bypass channel used to relocate Prickly Pear Creek was substantially completed in 2022 as part of the last remaining cleanup measures at the Site. See photos 3 and 4.
  • The removal and shipment of unfumed slag from the 16-million-ton slag pile for recycling in South Korea continued in 2022 and will be followed by grading and capping of the slag pile as part of final corrective measures to address groundwater contamination. See photos 5, 6 and 7.
  • The sale of more than 900 acres of former ASARCO lands is now in the planning stages, and is expected to culminate with the transfer of at least 880 acres in 2023. See photo (map) 8. So far, 777 acres formerly owned by ASARCO have already been sold or donated for public and private projects, including two public schools, a mixed-used development, a subdivision, expanded manufacturing, and the 322-acre Greenway Trail.

Visit East Helena 2022 photos to find photos of: the recent remediation and restoration of an 80-acre parcel along Prickly Pear Creek near Prickly Pear Elementary School; recent construction near Prickly Pear Creek, including removal of the Temporary Bypass Channel and bridge at the Site; and the ongoing slag removal project.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022 – 6 p.m.

METG Office, 324 Manlove Avenue, East Helena

The public meeting will start with a presentation, and a question-and-answer period will follow. Refreshments will be provided.



More than a century of lead smelting left extensive contamination in soil and groundwater at the former ASARCO Smelter Site in East Helena (the Site). Soils contaminated with lead, arsenic and other metals posed a threat to people, migratory birds and other organisms that could come into contact with the soil. Precipitation leached contaminants from smelter soils into groundwater and mobilized surface soil contaminants into stormwater runoff. Surface waters from Prickly Pear Creek and two manmade lakes raised groundwater levels under the former smelter and slag pile, driving groundwater through impacted soils and adding contaminants to groundwater that resulted in plumes of arsenic and selenium migrating off-site.

The Montana Environmental Custodial Trust (Custodial Trust) was established in 2009 as part of the ASARCO bankruptcy settlement, and the Montana Environmental Trust Group, LLC (METG) was appointed Trustee of the Custodial Trust. METG is responsible for remediating and facilitating safe reuse of the former ASARCO Smelter and surrounding East Helena lands under the oversight of EPA and for the benefit of the United States and the State of Montana.

Contamination at the former smelter has largely been addressed during the last 11 years, as METG has managed remedial actions that have included construction of a 62-acre sustainable cover system—the largest of its type in the country—and excavation of tons of contaminated material. Moving Prickly Pear Creek away from the smelter and the slag pile and draining the manmade lakes have lowered groundwater levels under the former plant.  These measures dramatically reduced the volume of groundwater flowing through contaminated soils, preventing its contamination. Groundwater contamination has been further reduced by removing select areas of highly contaminated soils that were a source of contamination to groundwater.

Greenfield Environmental Trust Group, Inc. is the parent company of METG.

Media Contact: Christine Amrhine, Montana Environmental Trust Group, LLC (METG), 540-846-3163,