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An IR View: Cleaning up slag, COVID vaccine coming, Helena Holiday Cruise

An IR View: Cleaning up slag, COVID vaccine coming, Helena Holiday Cruise

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It’s been said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and East Helena has an abundance of mining waste just waiting to be converted into something useful. 

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Montana Environmental Trust Group announced this week that nearly 2 million tons from East Helena’s 14-million-ton slag pile will be shipped to the world’s largest smelting facility in South Korea over the next few years. Zinc and other materials will be extracted from the most contaminated portions of the leftover slag, and the rest of the pile will be regraded and covered with vegetation.

The project is part of an ongoing effort to clean up the Superfund site at the former ASARCO East Helena Smelter Facility, where contamination has caused groundwater plumes above safe drinking water standards.

We are glad to see that something is finally being done about this eyesore in the middle of town, and we hope it goes off without a hitch. 

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St. Peter’s Health is among the 10 Montana hospitals expected to get the first round of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which will help ensure Helena-area residents can continue to get the health care they need as the pandemic rages on.

Local hospital officials announced this week that about 5% of their workforce, or 69 employees, are currently staying home due to COVID-19 issues. In a recent interview, they told the Independent Record potential staffing shortages are their greatest concern.

Health care workers will be the first to receive the vaccine, which Gov. Steve Bullock said could be delivered as early as next week. 

With local coronavirus cases spiking and the 2021 legislative session expected to exacerbate the problem in a few short weeks, our community needs all of the medical help it can get right now. 

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It’s hard to feel festive as COVID-19 puts many of our favorite holiday traditions on hold, but the Helena Area Community Foundation has come up with a safe way for the community to celebrate together.

Scheduled for Dec. 19-20, the Helena Holiday Cruise will be an opportunity to tour some of the best Christmas lights in the Helena area with a carload of friends or family. Participants will receive cocoa or cider, sweet or savory snacks, and a map of the tour route with a set of prearranged stops.

Revenue generated from the registration fees of $50 per vehicle will be used to pay for the participating vendors and help fund nonprofit grants provided by the foundation.

For more information or to register, visit or email Emily Frazier at

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 



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