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  Comments (1) Total Saturday Apr. 19, 2014
Push to Get CFAC Designated as Superfund Site
Sen.-elect Dee Brown asks Flathead County Commission to take the lead
Columbia Falls Aluminum Company aerial image. File photo by Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Columbia Falls has lived in the shadow of the shuttered Columbia Falls Aluminum Company plant since it powered down in 2009.

Since then, rumors have surfaced seemingly every year telling of a potential reopening, or even just lighting up part of the facility’s production and getting a fraction of the former workforce employed.

But CFAC’s owner, international conglomerate Glencore, has yet to make a move to relight the fires at the plant. And Dee Brown, a longtime Hungry Horse resident and recently elected state senator, is tired of waiting.

On Dec. 17, Brown asked the Flathead County Commission to take the lead in getting the facility federally designated as a superfund site, so it can be cleaned up and hopefully sold to another manufacturing company with plans to actually use it.

“(Glencore) has pretended that they’re going to reopen and they’ve given us hope,” Brown said. “I don’t think that we’ll ever see the CFAC that I knew.”

“I feel it’s time we push the button and get on with our life,” Brown added.

And with potential budget cuts to the EPA coming next year, which could mean a significant decrease in superfund money, Brown said it’s important to address the issue now and get in line for some of the cleanup money before it’s all appropriated.

Brown also mentioned how “diligently” Montana Sen. Jon Tester worked on this issue, trying to broker a deal with Glencore and the Bonneville Power Administration, but that he was summarily shut out by the Swiss company.

“Them ignoring Sen. Tester, that was the ultimate slap,” Brown said.

Commissioner Dale Lauman said he feels Glencore isn’t concerned about reopening CFAC because it wouldn’t affect the company’s bottom line. And while Lauman believes Glencore should be responsible for cleaning up the site, which is situated next to the Flathead River, he doesn’t see it as a reality.

“I think (superfund designation) needs to be pursued, because Glencore isn’t going to do it,” Lauman said.

Commissioners Pam Holmquist and Cal Scott also said they supported the idea.

Columbia Falls Mayor Don Barnhart said the city’s economy would definitely benefit from reopening the plant, but it’s time to look at alternate options.

“I think it’s been long enough that they have taken no direction,” Barnhart said. “It’s time. It’s an ongoing sore spot and something needs to be done.”

At its height, CFAC employed as many as 1,500 people. Earlier this year, Montana Sen. Max Baucus implored CFAC and the Bonneville Power Company to come to an agreement on a power contract to help create as many as 350 jobs.

CFAC shut down in 2009 due to poor market conditions.
On 12-26-12, ICallB.S. commented....
The owners of Glencore are absolutely salivating at the thought of passing the clean-up bill on to the taxpayers so they can keep all those millions of dollars and shirk their corporate responsibility once again.  Does this sound familiar?.....H.R. Grace ring a bell?
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