Yellowstone’s Arsenic Gets Park Service Sued

By a tiny Montana sewer authority left holding the bag
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2016 1:06 PM CST
Updated Dec 31, 2016 2:45 PM CST
Yellowstone’s Arsenic Gets Park Service Sued
In the photo taken in 2011, at Yellowstone National Park, Mont., tourists observe the changing colors of Midway Geyser Basin with the setting sun.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

There's a rumble brewing in the wilds of Montana, but the unlikely parties involved aren't slinging guns so much as heading for court. The Gardiner Water and Sewer Treatment District is suing none other than the National Park Service, reports Courthouse News Service, and it's over less-than-pristine water coming from Yellowstone National Park—specifically, water it's being forced to treat that contains high levels of arsenic. The district says that dealing with its sludge ponds will cost an estimated $2 million. Per the lawsuit: An "engineer recommended that the district address this infiltration problem with the park prior to beginning any sludge removal project." Otherwise, the problem would simply return again. But as the district "cannot await the Park Service’s responses any longer, it has been compelled to file suit."

Yellowstone is estimated to be contributing 95% of the arsenic present; the engineer doesn't think the arsenic is coming from wastewater, but possibly from leaky pipes or manholes within the park, reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Arsenic can occur naturally in geothermal areas, and it's not uncommon in Montana, notes CNS. The district—which first wrote the Park Service in March 2015, then again in December 2015, to no response—wants a court injunction to force Yellowstone to clean up its act, to compensate the district, and to monitor its sewer lines; it's also requesting a jury trial. A Yellowstone rep said only that Interior Department lawyers are "looking into it." (Meanwhile, one of our largest water sources is contaminated.)

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