The Latest: EPA boss says Superfund cleanups are a priority

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – The Latest on a visit to two Superfund sites in southwestern Montana by acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler (all times local):

6 p.m.

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says cleaning up contamination at mining industry sites and other polluted locations is a priority for the agency as it faces pressure to speed up its work.

Montana Public Radio reports that acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler visited the southwestern Montana communities of Butte and Anaconda on Friday with U.S. Sen. Steve Daines. The communities have languished on the federal Superfund list of contaminated sites since 1983.

Butte is home to the notorious Berkeley Pit, an open-pit coper mine that holds 50 billion gallons of acidic, metal-laden water where an estimated 3,000 snow geese died in 2016.

Anaconda’s environmental damage was caused by copper smelting that sent arsenic, lead and other metals into the air until 1980.

9 a.m.

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to visit two contaminated mining industry sites in Montana as the agency tries to speed up cleanup work that began more than three decades ago.

Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler was to visit the communities of Butte and Anaconda Friday with US Sen. Steve Daines.

Butte is home to the notorious Berkeley Pit, an open-pit coper mine that holds 50 billion gallons of acidic, metal-laden water where an estimated 3,000 snow geese died in 2016.

Anaconda’s environmental damage was caused by copper smelting that sent arsenic, lead and other metals into the air until 1980.

EPA officials in June announced a “conceptual” clean-up plan for Butte. In July they reached a preliminary agreement with Atlantic Richfield Company over pollution in Anaconda.

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