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Busy Summer Ahead At North Idaho Superfund Site

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EPA

Federal spending may be down because of the sequester, but this is expected to be one of the busiest summers ever at a federal superfund site in north Idaho. EPA officials said Tuesday they plan to spend $38 million and employ roughly 250 people on efforts to clear out contamination from a century of mining pollution.

The bulk of the funding for the Coeur d'Alene Basin cleanup project this year comes from mining company legal settlements, rather than tax dollars.

“And Congress couldn't touch the money," says Terry Harwood, the executive director of the Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission. "Under the court settlement Congress can't mess with the money. So they can't tell EPA not to spend $38 million this year, because none of this money is subject to sequestration.”

This summer, the EPA and its local partners plan to clean up more than 100 house lawns and pave over miles of gravel roads built with mining waste. They will also take blood samples from residents and dust samples from their homes to measure progress over the last five years.

Meanwhile, the EPA also proposed adding the Makah Reservation Warmhouse Beach Dump in Neah Bay, Wash., to its national priorities list of Superfund sites.

The federal Superfund program is expected to lose $74 million from the sequester.

On the Web:

Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Superfund Site - EPA