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The Berkeley Pit in 1972.

Berkeley Pit Myth Versus Fact

The Berkeley Pit in 1972.

The Berkeley Pit in 1972.

PitWatch Issue Volume 9, Number 1

The community has many common misconceptions about the Berkeley Pit. This section will address a few of those most often heard false statements and try to set the record straight.

Myth:

The Pit Will Overflow.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Fact:

There are two reasons why the Pit will never overflow. First, the 1994 Record of Decision and 2002 Consent Decree established the maximum level that the water will be allowed to reach to make sure the Berkeley Pit is lowest point in the cone of depression (see center graphic). Wells to monitor water levels have been set up. Failure to keep the water below the 5410′ elevation would result in steep fines for BP/Atlantic Richfield and Montana Resources. Second, the Horseshoe Bend Water Treatment Plant is already in-place and operating. It has the capacity (7 Million Gallons per Day) to treat water from the Berkeley Pit, when it becomes necessary. This will ensure the water level remains below 5,410′.

Myth:

The Horseshoe Bend Water Treatment Plant will empty the Berkeley Pit.

Fact:

In the 1994 Record of Decision, the agencies decided that it would be unfeasible for the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRP’s) to ever completely empty the Berkeley Pit. The remedy selected for the Berkeley Pit is to treat all water inflows to maintain the level below 5,410′ above sea level.

Myth:

Congress is cutting the national Superfund program and the operation of the Horseshoe Bend Water treatment Plant will be discontinued.

Fact:

The ‘Butte Mine Flooding Superfund Site’ is the responsibility of BP/Atlantic Richfield and Montana Resources. Thus, the plant will not be affected by any changes to the EPA’s Superfund Program. The legally binding Consent Decree, which was signed by the responsible parties in 2002, established the financial commitment to operate and maintain the water treatment plant in perpetuity.

Consent Decree (CD) for the Berkeley Pit

A Consent Decree (CD) is a legal document, approved by a judge, that formalizes an agreement reached between EPA and Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) through which PRPs will conduct all or part of a cleanup action at a Superfund site; cease or correct actions or processes that are polluting the environment; or otherwise comply with EPA initiated regulatory enforcement actions to resolve the contamination at the Superfund site involved. The consent decree describes the actions PRPs will take and may be subject to a public comment period.

Together with the Record of Decision and other supplementary documents, the CD governs future management of cleanup sites.

A lawsuit between the State of Montana and PRPs for Superfund sites in Butte and the Clark Fork Basin resulted in numerous CDs for different areas. The Consent Decree for the Butte Mine Flooding Operable Unit, which includes the Berkeley Pit, was published in 2002, and can be downloaded below.

2002 Consent Decree Download