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Opportunity lawsuit trial over cleanup gets delayed

OPPORTUNITY  – A lawsuit that’s been a decade in the making has reached another snag for about 100 residents in the Opportunity area near Anaconda.

The Opportunity residents involved in this suit were expected to have a jury trial in Butte on this matter at the end of October. However, the Atlantic Richfield Co. was successful in having that trial delayed while the case gets heard in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are suing the Atlantic Richfield Co. claiming that it needs to do more remediation work to clean up the contamination in the soil. The groundwater and soil in Opportunity were contaminated by arsenic and other heavy metals due to century’s worth of pollution that was spewed by the Anaconda smelter.

Some longtime Opportunity residents, who are not a part of the lawsuit, say they’re not too concerned about the contamination in the soil.

“When the smelter was running I believe it was contaminated, but like now, I think it’s a lot more clearer, cleaner water and I don’t think we have a much contamination,” said Ricardo Garcia, who has lived in Opportunity since the early 1970s.

Don Wyant has lived in Opportunity since the 1950s and he says he’s had no health problems.

“Yeah, I’ll be 91 in December, so I’m really worried. And I’ve put in 32 years for the Anaconda Co.” said Wyant.

The two Opportunity residents say the latest developments in this lawsuit doesn’t look too good for the plaintiffs.

“They’re just dragging it out, they’ll probably drag it out for another 20 years, you know,” said Garcia.

The lawsuit is seeking a cleanup that could cost ARCO somewhere between $50 million to $78 million.

John Emeigh

John Emeigh

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