Clark Fork Haunted by extractive industry waste

Environment Montana

Contact: Corey Bressler, 406-396-7201, [email protected]     

Missoula, Montana– In anticipation of Halloween, Environment Montana unveiled the 6 Scariest Facts about the Clark Fork showing that a terrifying concoction of pollutants have made the Clark Fork River Basin a ghost of its former self.

“Halloween is the season to be scared, but Montanans shouldn’t have to be afraid of swimming, fishing, and boating on any of Montana’s treasured waters,” said Environment Montana’s Corey Bressler. “Major polluters like agriculture, mining, and oil and gas companies have dumped toxic chemicals and hazardous waste into Montana’s waters for decades, turning many into potions of pollution.”

In its new, frightening fact sheet, Environment Montana found that:


1)    The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has identified 100 waterways too polluted for swimming, fishing, and/or other uses.

2)    The Upper Clark Fork River Basin, stretching from Milltown to Butte, is the largest Superfund site in the US.

3)    The Berkley Pit in Butte, once an open pit copper mine, is now a bubbling cauldron of toxic wastewater over 900 feet deep

4)    Montana is the 6th “driest” state in the nation, based on annual precipitation, yet according to the Western Organization of Resource Councils the oil and gas industry used over 250 million gallons of water here for fracking wells in 2012. This is enough water to fill more than 3,700 Olympic sized swimming pools.

5)    In January of this year, 31,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil spilled into the Yellowstone River. This spill contaminated the drinking water of Glendive, Montana residents with a witches’ brew of volatile organic chemicals.

6)    Montana attorney general Tim Fox recently filed a lawsuit against the Clean Water Rule, one of the biggest steps forward for clean water in more than a decade, and now a court ruling left 63% of Montana’s streams once again without clear protection under the Clean Water Act.

To protect Montana’s rivers and streams, Environment Montana called on Congressman Tester to oppose any attacks on clean water.

At the end of the summer, Environment Montana celebrated as the U.S. EPA’s Clean Water Rule finally went into effect, restoring Clean Water Act protections to waterways nationwide, including 63,000 miles of waterways in Montana and the drinking water for more than 230,000 Montanans. This was the biggest step forward for clean water in a decade.

Unfortunately, the Clean Water Rule is now under attack in both federal courts and the United States Congress.

“We urge Senator Tester to continue being a champion for clean water so that we can give the Clark Fork the Halloween treat it deserves: protection from pollution.”



Environment Montana is a statewide, citizen-funded environmental organization working to protect clean air, clean water, and open spaces.