Slag removal project continues in East Helena

by Phil Drake, excerpt from the Helena Independent Record, May 28, 2021

Preparation work is underway to whittle down a slag pile that has served as a longtime landmark in East Helena, and to send some of Montana one piece at a time to South Korea.

Cindy Brooks, managing principal of the Montana Environmental Trust Group, which controls both the smelter site and ASARCO-owned lands, said phase one of the project, the loading of a 3,000-ton shipment of unfumed slag to be shipped to South Korea, extension of a railroad spur onto the property and removal of the 1-million gallon tanks has been completed.

And phase two is set to begin next month. Officials said in December that 2 million tons from the pile will be sent to South Korea as part of an effort to clean up the Superfund site at the former ASARCO East Helena Smelter Facility. They said the 2 million tons represent the most contaminated portion of the slag pile. And when completed, the height of the slag pile, estimated at 14-16 million tons, will be cut by half to 50 feet.

“We are delighted with the progress,” Brooks said. “We’re obviously eager to finish up the final cleanup at the site.”

Crushing equipment is expected to arrive onsite soon and Brooks said the slag will be crushed to 2 inches in size and loaded onto conveyors and eventually into trains of 95 cars per train.

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