Toxic: The Mess at Smurfit-Stone

About the show

December 15th, 2009

Smurfit Stone Container Corporation announces the permanent closure of the expansive pulp mill just West of Missoula. 417 workers were told they had two weeks before they had to find a new job.

For an explanation as to why, Smurfit President Steve Klinger writes in a brief statement that mills were “high-cost facilities that do not provide adequate returns over the long term for the company.”

The immediate economic impacts of Frenchtown and Missoula are enormous. At the time, Smurfit-Stone was the second-largest taxpayer in Missoula County, second only to NorthWestern Energy.

January 14th, 2010

Smurfit-Stone’s Environmental Affairs Office states: “The company plans to remove all hazardous materials from the mill site.”

On the last shift of the last day, the engines stopped, the gates closed and the parking lots emptied out.

More than a decade later, after Smurfit-Stone dropped a mess in the heart of Missoula County, An industrial graveyard filled with sludge ponds, discarded heavy equipment and toxic metals sit dangerously close to our beloved Clark Fork River. Empty clean-up promises by shell companies inheriting Smurfit’s liabilities have done nothing to remove the hazardous waste pools that today sit seeping toxins into groundwater. Inaction by the state legislature, the EPA, and ownership will not be tolerated any longer.

In collaboration with The Clark Fork Coalition and Pintler Group podcasts, Welcome to “Toxic: The Mess at Smurfit-Stone” . Follow along as we explore what’s beyond the “No Trespassing Signs” surrounding the 900 acre Smurfit complex. What’s the plan, and what can we as Missoulians do?


  • Episode 6: Part Two: Is it Leaking?

    May 11th, 2023  |  Season 1  |  17 mins 22 secs
    smurfit stone cleanup
  • Episode 5: Presentation Part One: Is it Safe?

    April 27th, 2023  |  Season 1  |  27 mins 28 secs
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  • Episode 4: The Fish Consumption Advisory Update

    May 27th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  41 mins 48 secs
    awareness, clark fork, conservation, environment, fish consumption, missoula, montana, rivers, smurfit-stone, toxic

    In this episode, we join Fish, Wildlife, & Parks biologist David Scmetterling, and the Clark Fork Coalition's John DeArment for an update to the fish consumption advisory that was issued in December 2020, how that affects aquatic life, our community, and what we should do about it.

  • Episode 3: "A Restoration Slam Dunk!"

    October 27th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  28 mins 33 secs
    clark fork coalition, pintler group, podcast

    In this episode, learn about what you can do to help the Clark Fork Coalition clean this mess up!

  • Episode 2: David vs. Goliath

    August 17th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  37 mins 59 secs
    clark fork coalition, environmental protection agency, international paper, missoula, montana, smurfit-stone, westrock

    Clearly there's a mess at Smurfit-Stone, but exactly how bad is the mess and who is responsible for the cleanup?

  • Episode 1: Dumps, Discharge and Dioxins: The History of Smurfit-Stone

    July 24th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  26 mins 3 secs
    clark fork coalition, environmental protection agency, missoula water quality, smurfit-stone mill

    How did the Smurfit-Stone mill site become such a contaminated toxic mess? In this episode, we talk with former Missoula County Water Quality District Supervisor Peter Nielsen. He recounts a 26 year career focused on the Clark Fork River. If you're curious about the history of Smurfit-Stone and how we got to where we are today, this episode is for you.