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EPA to Study Coeur d'Alene Basin Contamination

Release Date: 2/25/1998
Contact Information: Mark MacIntyre
(206) 553-7302

February 25, 1998 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 98-08

For Immediate Release

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun a Remedial investigation/Feasibility Study(RI/FS) to assist in developing a comprehensive cleanup plan for the Coeur d’Alene Basin. EPA officials expect the study to show the nature and extent of contamination stemming from over a century of mining activities in the Basin.

EPA officials see this as a “significant step forward” in what they expect will be a cooperative effort between the Agency, Tribal, State and local governments, as well as the mining companies, to identify cost-effective cleanup alternatives based on sound science and public involvement.

According to Michael Gearheard, Environmental Cleanup Supervisor at EPA’s Seattle regional office, the RI/FS process will help bring the various studies together and hasten agreement to a comprehensive cleanup plan.

“We all need to have a clearer picture of what we’re facing in terms of contamination in the Basin,” Gearheard said. “By using EPA’s cleanup tools and authorities, we can accelerate the investigation and determine where the contaminants are coming from, where they are now, and how to best reduce the health and environmental risks they may pose.”

Gearheard also voiced strong commitment to the partnership principle and “team approach” to cleanup plan development.

“We’re taking an in-depth look at Basin contamination, but we have no intention of interfering with other on-going clean up work,” he declared. “Our effort will be coordinated with activities already underway by the State of Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Panhandle Health District, local governments, other federal agencies and mining companies. We recognize that strong local government and community involvement will be key to the ultimate success of this effort.”

To kick-off the community involvement part of the project, EPA is planning to hold several informal “open houses” in the near future in Harrison, Wallace and Coeur d’Alene. Representatives of Tribal, State and local government, as well as mining companies and other federal agencies, will be invited to participate.

Residents who are interested in learning more about scheduling an open house in their area should contact the Mary Jane Nearman at 1- 800-424-4372.
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