Tag Archives: Montana

Berkeley Pit Superfund Site, Butte, MT

Panoramic view of the toxic, corrosive pool from the viewing platform.

Panoramic view of the toxic, corrosive pool from the viewing platform.

There are Superfund Sites. Then there are SUPERFUND SITES! The Berkeley Pit in Butte, MT is the latter. A former open pit copper mine, it is now a 900 foot deep collection pool of eerily gorgeous water. That water is contaminated with heavy metals, copper, cadmium, cobalt, iron, manganese, zinc, arsenic, and has a pH of 2.5 (acidic). And it’s open for tours. How about that? You can take a tour of a Superfund Site.

The most interesting part of this site is that since it closed on Earth Day 1982, the pit is slowly collecting more water. That is a problem. There is a critical level, 5,410 feet above sea level, when the water will be near the natural water table. At that time they will begin pumping the water out of the pit. If they don’t, the toxic, corrosive water will outflow back into the groundwater and surrounding surface water. As of Oct 1, 2014, the water level has grown 6.17 feet in 2014 to 5,319.78 feet. It is estimated that the water will reach the critical level in 2023. That’s not that far. Continue reading

Environment of Beer: Bayern Brewery, Missoula, MT

Fly fishing Montana

Bayern’s Dancing Trout keeping cool while fly fishing

Bayern Brewery in Missoula, MT has been brewing award-winning, traditional German beers since 1987. They’re not one of the new breweries on the growing-craft-beer-market block. There are a lot of great breweries, but very of few of them have the same strong commitment to a sustainability program.

I’ve been to their brewery and tasting room twice during my travels to Missoula. During my most recent visit with a co-worker, who lives in Missoula, he began telling me about their recycling program and other environmental efforts. As a beer drinking and environmental professional, I am interested in the “environment of beer” and wanted to know more. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to drink some good beer and learn more about their environmental programs.

Their most interesting sustainable practice is that they recycle their own glass. Combined with buying back their 6-pack holders and/or giving recyclers trade-in value for beer, they recycle or reuse their entire packaging material. For a $3 deposit, you can get one of their Ecopacks to collect and return the bottles and 6-pack holders. They’ll even take back other qualifying beer bottles. How about that, beer drinkers? Bring back your bottles and 6-pack holders and they’ll give you credit for beer!

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Top 5 Environmentally Influential Places in US

Teddy Roosevelt said, “I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” Well, I would not have my environmental view had it not been for these 5 places. As an environmental professional, I work to find the balance between a clean, beautiful natural environment, human health, useable land, and productive facilities. Therefore, my Top 5 environmentally influential places are the following.

1. Southwestern and Central Pennsylvania, for its geology and geography. The old rocks, rolling hills and valleys, the landslides, the coal. It’s where I developed an appreciation for earth sciences. First, on my own spending time in those hills and valleys and second, it’s where I studied geology at Penn State University.

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