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Conservationists want clean up done fast

Conservationist group, Clark Fork Coalition (CFC), has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to force Montana Power Company to speed up the clean up at Milltown dam in the US.

In a motion to intervene filed with FERC, the Missoula-based river watchdog group said Montana Power should not be allowed to use the hydro power relicensing process to delay the ongoing Superfund cleanup at Milltown dam and reservoir.

Montana Power, on the other hand, has asked FERC – which oversees the dam’s operation and maintenance – to extend its operating license at Milltown dam for another two years, while the Superfund decision-making process comes to a conclusion at the end of 2002. The company has previously justified its license extension requests by saying it cannot make a decision about the future of the dam without knowing the Superfund cleanup plan.

The CFC motion says that Montana Power should be required to declare up front whether it intends to conform its plans to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming decision on how best to clean up pollution created by high concentrations of metals and arsenic in Milltown reservoir sediments.

The cleanup decision has been narrowed to two choices: remove the contaminated sediments and, with them, Milltown Dam; or leave the sediments in place and improve the dam so it does a better job of passing ice and flood waters that could scour sediments from the reservoir.

The Clark Fork Coalition wants the dam and sediments removed, as do the city and county of Missoula.