MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on Montana’s spring flooding (all times local):
Contaminated water is bubbling and popping in a pond that holds an abandoned pulp and paper plant’s industrial waste along the flooding Clark Fork River near Frenchtown.
But authorities say there is no imminent threat of a breach of the 2 ½ mile (4 kilometer) earthen berm that separates the contaminated site from the river.
The Missoulian reports that 10 days of flooding has saturated the area and pushed groundwater through the Smurfit-Stone Container site and the ponds that hold decades of toxic waste.
Travis Ross of the Missoula City-County Health Department says the contaminated water is coming out of three or four 10- to 12-inch cones, like small volcanos. He says their presence indicates a potential vulnerability of the structure.
Officials plan to dump fill material in and around the pond on Saturday.
Montana authorities have closed an interstate highway in both directions after high water washed out a culvert running underneath it and caused the roadway to crumble.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says Interstate 15 between Jefferson City and Boulder was shut down on Friday, and the closure continues Saturday.
Suggested detours between Helena and Butte include U.S. Highway 287 through Three Forks and U.S. Highway 12 through Garrison.
Western and central Montana streams and rivers are running high due to the rapidly melting mountain snowpack and recent rainfall in the area.
The rain, snowmelt and saturated soils have prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flood watch Saturday across a swath of central Montana.
Flooding is ongoing in some western Montana waterways, including the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers.
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