FERC Clears Milltown Dam for Removal


Following a plan designed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today issued an order relinquishing its control over Milltown Dam, P-2543. The order dismisses the pending license application and gives notice that FERC intends to accept project surrender. FERC also ordered actions in accordance with EPA's plan to remove Milltown Dam, such as permanent reservoir drawdown, and clarified that EPA is now in charge of regulating and ultimately removing the dam.From FERC's press release:"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today cleared the way for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the dismantling of a dam in Montana as part of a Superfund hazardous waste site cleanup. [...]"In an order involving the Milltown Hydroelectric Project, located on the Clark Fork River in Montana, the Commission said that because the project is located on a Superfund site, EPA now has effective regulatory control over all aspects of the project. EPA will move forward with removal of the dam as part of its approved plan to remediate the project site."The Commission, in anticipation of project dismantling, will issue a notice of intent to accept surrender of the license. A 30-day comment period will be established for parties to comment on the surrender. "Chairman Pat Wood, III commented: 'I will always be a strong supporter of building and maintaining infrastructure to support our energy needs, especially clean hydropower. In this instance, however, the environmental requirements trump power production.'"EPA designated the entire Milltown project a Superfund site in 1983 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as the law is formally known. The project reservoir is contaminated by approximately 6.6 million cubic yards of silt laden with arsenic, copper, zinc, and other heavy metals, which have leached from closed mines upstream in the area of Butte, Montana."