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Citizen Discourse on Contaminated Water, Superfund Cleanups, and Landscape Restoratio ...

Chapter 1:  The Milltown Cleanup
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Citizen Discourse on Contaminated Water, Superfund Cleanups, and Landscape Restoration:

Chapter 1

The Milltown Cleanup

Introduction

In 1981 residents of Milltown, Montana, learned that several wells providing drinking water to local residences were contaminated with arsenic. Suddenly, this tiny community was on its way to becoming one of the most expensive Superfund cleanup projects in the United States. Yet, as has become typical in such cases, legal questions, theoretical disputes, and divisiveness among local community members slowed progress towards a solution. Environmental cleanup projects are complex affairs involving intersecting scientific and cultural issues, and potential projects remain unaddressed until they are linked to immediate human health risks. However, even when human health is at risk, legal and ethical imperatives are complicated by emotional attachments that individuals feel toward the particular local environment, especially when the environment is their home. So was the predicament in Milltown. The alarming revelations of 1981 were simply precursors to long and cumbersome negotiations concerning who would be held responsible,