Letters & Articles

MAFES: Berkeley Pit Watch - 01/27/13


The official "Record of Decision" (called a ROD), issued in September 1994 by the U.S. EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), established the critical water level at 5,410 feet above sea level.

According to the agencies, the 5,410 feet level includes a safety buffer of at least 50 feet, and represents the point at which the Pit water could potentially seep into Silver Bow Creek or into the alluvial groundwater aquifer that supplies some local wells.

The ROD stipulates that the parties responsible for treating the Pit water—BP-ARCO and Montana Resources—must begin pumping and treating Pit water before it reaches this critical level. If they do not comply, they will be fined $25,000 per day. The ROD requires certain actions to be completed, such as upgrades to the Horseshoe Bend Water Treatment Plant to allow it to treat higher volumes of contaminated water, as the critical level approaches.