KC Harvey was recently awarded a very important project with the Granite Headwaters Watershed Group (a local citizen-led nonprofit association created to protect and restore the watershed) and Trout Unlimited (a national grassroots movement to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds) to assess and remediate mercury and metal contamination associated with historic mining and milling in the Fred Burr Creek watershed near Philipsburg, Montana. Mercury is an extremely toxic metal when released to the environment and has a complex environmental geochemistry. Mercury and other metals are present in the soils, sediments, aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish tissue associated with Fred Burr Creek.
Recent surface water, sediment and fish tissue sampling results completed by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) show elevated metals concentrations, including mercury, arsenic and lead in Fred Burr Creek. This, along with results from several past studies by the DEQ, University of Montana, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) support the strong suspicion that contamination of the stream, sediments and nearby soils is from a former silver mill site and from tailings dispersed downstream in the riparian corridor. This former mill site may actually be the primary source of mercury in Flint Creek and the Clark Fork River downstream of the confluence with Flint Creek.
KC Harvey has been tasked with performing additional sampling and analysis to define the nature and extent of contamination and required reclamation efforts to remove the contaminants and improve water quality. Our decades of mining related remediation experience have been recognized as essential to complete this cleanup project. Once we have compiled the necessary data, we will design a remediation program to address the mercury and metal contamination. We are excited to tackle this interesting and challenging environmental problem and look forward to working with the Granite Headwaters Watershed Group, Trout Unlimited, and other local stakeholders and landowners to achieve the program’s remediation goals.