Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A clean CFAC equals a brighter future

by Mayre Flowers
| April 23, 2024 12:00 AM

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company and Glencore representatives will be in Columbia Falls on Wednesday and  Thursday, April 24 and 25. Don’t miss this opportunity to speak up for a brighter  future and a more comprehensive cleanup of CFAC’s toxic waste dumps.

This is a vitally important opportunity to not only ask questions at two half-days of listening sessions and presentations, but to let CFAC, EPA and Montana DEQ  know, through your packed room presence, particularly at their two evening  meetings, that you, and the community at large, want their support in providing more time to study, explore and find a path forward for a more comprehensive cleanup of the CFAC Superfund site. 

There will be an open house each day from noon – 5 p.m. and evening presentations beginning at 6:30 p.m. each night, followed by a question-and-answer session. The events will be held at The Hub Downtown, 533 First Ave. E. in Columbia Falls. 

Glencore is one of the world’s largest global multi-billion-dollar companies dealing in the sourcing and marketing of metals and minerals worldwide. They own, and previously operated the Columbia Falls aluminum smelter northeast of Columbia Falls for many years, until they closed it. CFAC is hosting these meetings.  

We appreciate that while these meeting will be in Columbia Falls, they are providing the whole Flathead Valley a great opportunity for residents to hear from them directly. This is a vital opportunity to not only ask questions about the currently proposed cleanup details and anticipated new housing, but to also ask about CFAC’s willingness to take more time to work with residents to explore a more comprehensive cleanup of the CFAC site, than is currently proposed.  

The EPA is the federal agency tasked with the responsibility of making the final decision on what will be included and required in the final cleanup plan. They are also very importantly tasked with encouraging extensive community outreach, listening and seeking to build community acceptance for a final cleanup plan. The overwhelming majority of comments the EPA has received to date call for removal of the toxic waste from the site and a more extensive cleanup plan. 

The Montana DEQ is the state agency that works  very closely with EPA to evaluate the proposed cleanup plan. Both EPA and DEQ  will have representatives at these meetings and are there to answer questions. 

The Coalition for a Clean CFAC Steering Committee plans to have representatives at all these sessions.  

If you are one of the 1,500 individuals who have signed the Coalition’s petition requesting a pause in the decision-making process, please attend and let your voice be heard. If you are one of the 15,000 people represented by the 12 organizations who have signed the petition, please come. 

There have been years  of meetings. This is not the time to give up, but to rather once again speak up loud and clear for a clean CFAC and a brighter future. Your presence will speak more loudly than any one voice. Please make it a priority to attend.

Mayre Flowers represents the Coalition for a Clean CFAC.