Silver Valley Action
Cataldo Mission
and the East Mission Flats Repository

American Lead Poisoning Help Association

The Battle of the Mission Repository:
No Small Potatoes


Lead issues have long plagued entire communities as a result of mining, smelting or other production of lead products.  One of the worst locations for lead contamination is in the Coeur d’Alene (pronounced Core-delay-n) mining district (CDA), Idaho, our 43rd state. The Bunker Hill mine was one of the richest lead producing mines in the US. There are hundreds of mines in Shoshone County Idaho, most are inactive at this time but several that are still mining; this is one of the richest heavy metal mining areas in the world, and has produced billions in mining production.


Bunker Hill is also a Superfund Site, which is a site where toxic wastes have been dumped and the EPA has designated them to be cleaned up. According to the EPA, the Coeur d'Alene-Spokane River Basin contains “significant measurable risks currently exist to humans”. Because of over 100 years of mining impacting the  area, lead contamination in surface water “as much as 90 times exceeds” EPA standards. 300,000 citizens live within a 1,500 square mile area beginning at the Montana border and extending into Washington State, with over 166 miles of CDA River corridor, downstream water bodies, fill areas, adjacent floodplains and tributaries that are contaminated and “the most heavily impacted areas are devoid of aquatic life.


As a result of the contamination, children in this area have blood lead levels above the national CDC standards.  “One of every four children tested outside the 21 sq. mile "box” is found to have an elevated lead leveland are now lead poisoned. Numerous children in the Bunker Hill site are also still being tested a routine began in about 1974 and are found with elevated lead levels.


Now, knowing all this, imagine turning a National Historic Landmark into a toxic waste dump. Unfortunately, such thoughts are becoming reality, as the future of the Old Mission Repository, officially known as the Mission of the Sacred Heart, is at stake. It was built by the Coeur d'Alene and Flathead Native American tribes and Jesuits Catholic in the late 1800s, and one of Idaho’s gems.  And it is also on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list to hold more than 600,000 cubic yards of toxic mine waste at the site. The agencies estimated that the pile will be more than 60 feet tall in 20-30 years, and that there will be additional health concerns, ranging from blowing dust to the location in a flood plain, or simply that only 30% of the plan is completed.  Lead is a daily nightmare in Idaho, and this is just another example of how serious spite the far-reaching effects of the problem. CDA is not the only smelter or mining community which deals with the daily effects of lead.


For more information on Idaho’s lead problem, visit  Visit  for complete article and citations.

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