FERC accepts license surrender of 3.4-MW Milltown Dam

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has accepted surrender of the license for 3.2-MW Milltown Dam, effective April 10. Clark Fork and Blackfoot LLC was the licensee of the project, located at a Superfund hazardous waste site on the Clark Fork River in Missoula County, Montana.

FERC explained it set the effective date for the surrender based on a consent decree by a U.S. District Court in Montana. The decree, approved by the court Feb. 23, provides for removal of the dam, powerhouse, and contaminated sediment in the reservoir. The site is to be restored by December 2009.

The consent decree was the product of years of negotiations involving the Environmental Protection Agency, Montana, Indian tribes, Atlantic Richfield Co., and NorthWestern Energy. Arco, which bought Anaconda Mining, the source of metals and arsenic that settled behind the dam, and NorthWestern Energy, parent of the licensee, are responsible parties for the cleanup.

Arco is to foot about 80 percent of the $100 million remediation bill, as detailed in a 2005 agreement. NorthWestern is to contribute $11.4 million and the state $7.6 million.

FERC previously deferred to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to oversee dismantling of Milltown Dam. Because the project (No. 2543) is on a Superfund site, FERC said EPA had effective regulatory control over all aspects of the project. FERC said control passed to EPA on Dec. 20, 2004, when EPA adopted a final plan calling for the project to be dismantled and removed during site remediation.

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