"Below the center of Butte flows water tainted with poisons drawn from a mass of mining and smelting waste that has been a pollution problem for more than a century.
The deadly bright-blue plume “is the most contaminated mine water in the state of Montana,” hydrogeologist Joe Griffin says.
No one argues that point. But a raging dispute centers on what to do about it — and about the tailings from the Parrot mine and smelter that are feeding the deadly brew of metals-laced water.
The polluted groundwater is flowing inexorably toward Silver Bow Creek, and critics of the Environmental Protection Agency’s long-standing decision to leave the tailings in the middle of the city as “waste in place” say it could eventually endanger the recently completed cleanup of the lower part of the creek, which cost an estimated $147 million."