Viewpoint: Smurfit berms leave public, river at risk
The old Smurfit-Stone paper mill outside of Frenchtown is a serious threat to the Clark Fork River. The paper mill’s unlined waste dumps leak toxic chemicals into groundwater that flows into the river. The site and its chemicals are becoming increasingly dangerous to the health of the wildlife and the public.
Already, the pollutants, which include dioxins, furans, arsenic, and PCBs have leaked into the Clark Fork. There is now a non-consumption order for fish in the Clark Fork both up and downriver of the old mill, affecting both wildlife and fisherman.
Currently, the only separation between the unlined pits and the river is a very small gravel berm. This site sits within the active flood plain of the Clark Fork River, which means that the berm is unlikely to hold if the river floods. If this were to happen, pollutants would flood downriver and cause huge issues for communities like Frenchtown and Plains, and even areas as low as Sandpoint, Idaho.
We all face serious risk due to the pollution from this site. Despite these high risks, the EPA has yet to take action to prevent such disasters from continuing to occur. If you care at all for your own safety, the river that provides such joy and life, or the wildlife that share this beautiful place with us, join me in calling upon the EPA to take action on this monumental issue.