Bullock joins Butte in celebrating start of Parrot tailings removal project

Posted at 7:03 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 21:03:40-04

BUTTE – The governor did not sugar coat his words about starting the removal of buried mine waste in the heart of Butte.

“It is about damn time,” Gov. Steve Bullock said.

Bullock marked the first day of the Parrot tailings removal project off Civic Center Road with county leaders and mining officials by shoveling a little dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony. Then they broke out the really big shovel.

This is a day the governor has been looking forward to for the last several years.

“Ever since I was Attorney General we knew this dirt shouldn’t be staying in place, not only for the community of Butte, but as you go all the way down the river throughout the Basin,” Bullock said.

The waste removal will start at this 10-acre lot and is estimated between $15 million to $30 million. It will involve relocating the county’s maintenance shop and will continue over the next few years.

“We’re finally starting at the headwaters with the removal and moving downstream from there. We’re going to clean up the corridor in Butte and I think it’s just long overdue,” said Butte Chief Executive Dave Palmer.

A blue liquid from the site is actually groundwater that’s been contaminated by copper and mine waste. And this is the reason this project is being done, so they can remove the century’s worth of mine waste and get this groundwater looking like water again.

“Some of the most contaminated water in the tailings here. This came from about 30 feet deep, 35 feet deep, but it’s got that rich blue color from all the copper that’s in it. I think it’s going to be great, we’ve shown before that removing the contamination source you’ll start to see improvement over time,” said John Babcock, part of the team that tested the groundwater.

And the time starts now.