Montana Superfund Cleanup

This 2016 photo shows the former Anaconda smelter smokestack behind sculptures of miners in Anaconda, Montana. Residents in the nearby community of Opportunity have sued to get the Atlantic Richfield Co. to do a more thorough cleanup of arsenic in residential yards.

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether residents of two Montana communities can continue their decade-long effort to get the Atlantic Richfield Co. to pay for a more thorough cleanup of arsenic left on properties after a century of copper smelting.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled in December 2017 for the residents of Opportunity and Crackerville.

They sued in 2008 seeking to force Arco to reduce arsenic levels to the area’s normal level, 25 parts per million.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said cleanup was required when arsenic levels were above an “acceptable” level of 250 parts per million.

Arco appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that federal law prohibited state lawsuits from interfering with an ongoing cleanup.

The Montana Standard reported that the justices agreed Monday to hear Arco’s appeal.

Also Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to federal regulation of gun silencers, less than two weeks after a gunman used one in a shooting rampage that killed 12 people in Virginia.

The justices did not comment in turning away appeals from two Kansas men who were convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers. The men argued that the constitutional right “to keep and bear arms” includes silencers.

The court’s action in the silencer cases was among dozens of orders in pending appeals.

The court also rejected an appeal from a Yemeni man who has been held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base for more than 17 years. But Justice Stephen Breyer said “it is past time” for the court to decide whether indefinite detention at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba is legal.

In the silencer cases, Kansas and seven other states joined in a court filing urging justices to hear the appeals. The states said the court should affirm that the Second Amendment protects “silencers and other firearms accessories.” The other states are: Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

President Trump’s administration asked the court to stay out of the case and leave the convictions in place.

Shane Cox, owner of a military surplus store, was convicted of making and transferring an unregistered silencer, and customer Jeremy Kettler was convicted of possessing one, all in violation of the 85-year-old National Firearms Act. Both men were sentenced to probation.

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