Nora Saks

Nora Saks is a freelance radio and print journalist investigating themes of environmental justice in the Crown of the Continent and beyond.

She's currently a graduate student in the University of Montana's Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism Masters Program.

Having lived both north and south of the 49th parallel, she's inclined to use the term "bioregion" a little too frequently when describing her interest in exploring boundaries based on ecology rather than politics.

CORRECTION: This story was updated on April 12, 2018 to clarify the legal status of the Anaconda Superfund cleanup, see copy in bold below.    

The EPA’s top regional administrator set a new timeline for completing cleanup of the Anaconda Superfund site, speaking today in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Old Works Golf Course.

"We will start in complete de-listing parts of the Anaconda Superfund site this year, so that we can start to lift the stigma,” said Doug Benevento, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 office in Denver.

This week, top staff from the Environmental Protection Agency will be in Butte and Anaconda meeting with local leaders, holding public meetings and touring Superfund sites.

Last year, the EPA added both sites to their so-called national “emphasis list.”

Montana is world famous for its pristine natural environment, but it’s also home to America’s largest Superfund site (in Butte) and numerous other wastelands of its industrial past. Over the years, various well-intentioned economic revivalists and snake oil salesmen have proposed solutions to alchemize mine waste into gold - first with the environmental restoration industry, now with bitcoin miners putting out shingles in historic hard rock mining towns. This series of stories will explore the Treasure State’s collapsed pride, and efforts to process its toxic shame and legacy into a new identity and economy.

One of the longest serving newspaper photographers in the state had his job eliminated by Lee Enterprises last month.

Walter Hinick shot for Butte’s Montana Standard since 1976. Shortly after he lost his job, I had a chance to talk with him in Butte at the Mountain Con Mine overlook park.

The state Department of Justice is currently investigating an incident in which shots were fired in the parking lot of Big Sky High School in Missoula on Friday, March 16.

Over the weekend, the Missoulian reported that the shots came from a school resource officer, after a student he was investigating fled and tried to run him over.

As the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) gets closer to finishing the clean-up of dioxin-contaminated soil at Butte’s smallest Superfund site, the Montana Pole Plant, some members of the community are still concerned about the human health risk.

In response, a risk assessment expert visited Butte to break down options for protecting human health with a contaminant that just won’t break down.

Last year, unprecedented levels of wildfire smoke from the epic 2017 wildfire season choked communities across western Montana and left lots of people wondering what breathing that smoke was doing to their health. And on Tuesday night on campus in Missoula, a University of Montana researcher will share some of his findings on the detrimental health effects of smoke.

The mining companies in charge of the Berkeley Pit are going to start pumping, treating and discharging the water in the former open pit copper mine into Silver Bow Creek five years earlier than planned. Susan Dunlap is reporting that story for the Montana Standard in Butte. She spoke to MTPR's Nora Saks.

The University of Montana’s president, athletic director and returning head football coach had a frank conversation with some of the football program’s toughest critics Monday night in Missoula.

They had a civil dialogue. The critics aired their grievances, and the University’s representatives said the school has done a lot to address issues like sexual assault. They said the football program has grown more mature, and that it’s focused on building men of character.

For decades now, Superfund meetings have been routine in Butte, but their highly technical nature can deter locals who want to stay informed and involved. In response, KBMF- Butte’s community radio station, hosted its first ever Superfund forum last Friday night.

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