Current Press Releases

Feb 28, 2012


Back ][ Current Press Releases Home ][ Next ]

Keith Large
(406) 841-5039


DEQ Requires Stimson to Clean Up Newly-Discovered, High-Level PCBs at Bonner Mill Site


The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced today it will require Stimson Lumber Company to remove additional pollution discovered at the cleanup site in Bonner, Montana. Recent sampling at the cleanup site shows additional contamination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at high levels.

"The DEQ is taking this seriously and cleaning up the PCBs is a priority," said DEQ Director Richard Opper. "Thank goodness we sampled and found the problem. Our number one purpose is to protect human health and the environment."

Late last fall, the DEQ required Stimson to install nine monitoring wells near or inside the original removal area. During installation of one of the wells, highly concentrated PCB levels above 6,000 parts per million (ppm) were detected in the soils. DEQ's cleanup level is 0.74 ppm. While the contamination level is high, the PCBs don't appear to be threatening the Blackfoot River. The well is located about 50 feet west of the original removal area. The affected area is above and to the south of the river bank about 50 feet. This month, DEQ and EPA required Stimson to do additional sampling and soil borings to determine the extent of this newly-found PCB contamination. Results are expected in March.

DEQ and Stimson Lumber Company will work on a remediation plan to address the sampling results. Stimson is responsible for the removal costs. "Stimson is the responsible party for this particular contamination and we will hold them accountable to make sure the area is cleaned up," said Opper. "The company has acted responsibly in the cleanup process so far and we expect they will continue in that manner." Opper added that the DEQ will also continue to work closely with the Missoula County Commission and City-County Health Department to ensure that human health and the environment are protected, and to keep the public informed about project developments.

"We too are very concerned about the additional PCBs found at the site," said Peter Nielsen, Environmental Health Supervisor for the Missoula City-County Health Department. "The levels are quite high in one area, which is why follow up monitoring is required at cleanup sites such as this. We are pleased that DEQ will require Stimson to proceed with additional cleanup and we want to ensure that all of the contamination is removed."

In April 2010, DEQ, the state Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program, and Stimson finalized an Administrative Order on Consent and work plan to remove the PCB-contaminated cooling pond and berm area that encroached into the river next to Stimson’s Bonner mill. With state oversight, Stimson and its local contractor Envirocon, Inc. did the cleanup, disposed of PCB-contaminated materials and reclaimed the river embankment. The work was done in two phases. Much of it was completed last year. The additional pollution will require a phase three and extended timeline into 2012. For more information, please visit the DEQ website at


Mary Ann Dunwell
Public Information Coordinator
Remediation Division
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
1100 North Last Chance Gulch
Helena, MT 59601

(406) 841-5016
(406) 461-5358 (cell)

### END ###