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North Idaho Residents Blast EPA Mine Cleanup Proposal

Doug Nadvornick

The Environmental Protection Agency has re–ignited a contentious debate in north Idaho. The agency proposes to expand its work to clean up heavy metals around a federal Superfund site. But residents are not happy. They vented Monday night at a town hall meeting in Kellogg, Idaho.


Since 1983, the people of Idaho's Silver Valley have reluctantly accepted the EPA as neighbors. Now, many are angry that the agency wants to stay another 50–90 years and spend more than a billion dollars to continue its work.

That work has cleared the air and removed hundreds of tons of contaminated soil. But EPA officials say there's more to be done to seal up old mines and make streams habitable for fish.

Many local people acknowledge the project has improved the environment and lowered lead levels in the blood of children. But resident David Bond thinks the government's new proposal is overkill. At a public meeting, he urged Governor Butch Otter to send EPA a message.

David Bond: "Do not sign the document. Do not abdicate Idaho's rights as a sovereign state and do not abandon us through a century's occupation."

Agency officials have vowed to work to minimize the effects on the local economy.

Idaho's senators are urging the federal government to develop a new cleanup plan. They asked EPA for more time to comment on the proposal. That's something agency officials say they'll grant.

I'm Doug Nadvornick in Kellogg, Idaho.

© Copyright 2010, Northwest News Network

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