Atlantic Richfield Company Agrees to $2.2 Million Cleanup at ACM Smelter and Refinery Superfund Site in Montana

Great Falls MT (8/22/2023) — The Atlantic Richfield Company and ARCO Environmental Remediation, L.L.C. (collectively, Atlantic Richfield) have agreed to the cleanup of community soils—including both residential and non-residential yards and soil affected by the refinery’s operations—at the ACM Smelter and Refinery Superfund Site (Site) in Black Eagle, Montana, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. Under the proposed consent decree, Atlantic Richfield is required to pay for past response costs and implement a multi-million-dollar cleanup for community soils at the Site.

“This proposed consent decree between EPA and the Atlantic Richfield Company represents a new chapter in the effort to protect human health and the environment in the community of Black Eagle,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “I applaud those who worked diligently to obtain this agreement, which will address decades of soil contamination and provide a safer, more healthful environment for generations to come.”

The former copper concentrating and smelting facility, referred to as the Great Falls Refinery, operated for nearly 80 years near the unincorporated community of Black Eagle. The smelter and refinery’s operations produced large quantities of slag, tailings, flue dust and other smelter and refinery wastes containing lead, arsenic and other metals that contaminated soil, groundwater and surface water resources at the Site. EPA placed the Site on the Superfund National Priority List in March 2011.

The proposed consent decree requires Atlantic Richfield to implement remedial design and remedial action in the community soils portion of one of the Site’s three operable units, OU1, at an estimated cost of $2,286,000 and pay $464,475.12 for past response costs incurred by EPA through September 30, 2022.

“I am pleased that the EPA and the Atlantic Richfield Company have reached this agreement to clean up contamination from the decades-long operation of the former smelter and refinery in Black Eagle,” said U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich for the District of Montana. “I am hopeful that this consent decree will restore the natural resources and lead to a healthier and safer environment for the people of Great Falls.”

“This is an exciting milestone for the cleanup in Black Eagle,” said Amy Steinmetz, waste management and remediation division administrator for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). “MDEQ looks forward to working with the EPA and Atlantic Richfield, on behalf of Montanans, as the cleanup in Black Eagle and at the former smelter and refinery site move forward.”

The consent decree filed today in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, Montana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department’s website.

Under Montana state law, the Department of Environmental Quality is separately required to put the proposed consent decree out for public comment, which will be available on DEQ’s website. The state’s public comment period will run concurrently with the federal public comment period.

Information about operable units, past time-critical cleanup efforts, and the Site’s history is available on the EPA Superfund site page.


Mackenzie Meter (