Silver Valley Action

Over 1600 signatures have been gathered by the SVCRC in opposition to the East Mission Flats Repository

Cataldo Mission National Historic Site 66000312, (NHL) 661015

Dump site a little-known threat 

On Sunday (June 1, 2008), some 30 people gathered at the Cataldo Mission I-90 overpass. They displayed banners and signs alerting passing motorists to the placement of a toxic materials repository in a wetland currently under several feet of water.

Waste from the EPA cleanup of the Silver Valley (as well as anything else anyone would care to rid themselves of – such as contaminated soil from Kuwait) is slated to be deposited on this 20-acre site that floods regularly, sending lead and other dangerous materials right into the Coeur d'Alene River, Lake Coeur d'Alene, the Spokane River and beyond.

With the incredibly persistent real estate boom in this area, an ever-growing populace faces contamination from a site which most of them know nothing about. The EPA and Idaho DEQ have spun themselves a cloak of deception to disguise yet another nasty little secret.

At this moment, people along the Coeur d'Alene drainage are being advised not to drink the water due to a number of things that lake-water filtration systems do not remove; principal among them is lead. The source of this contamination lies upstream in the soils of the Silver Valley. Sign the petition to protest this site today...
Susan Melka
Harrison, Idaho 

Demonstration, by Jeri McCroskey 

     Sunday afternoon’s rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm or spirits of an estimated 60 people who gathered on the Dredge Road just north of the Mission of the Sacred Heart to protest the scheduled placement of a toxic waste repository across Interstate 90 and in the view shed of Idaho’s oldest standing building which is listed in the National Register of Historic places as a National Landmark Site.

     Organizers of the protest are members of the Silver Valley Resource Center, a grass roots organization that has worked to promote and support both environmental and human health in the Silver Valley and the Coeur d’Alene Basin as a whole. 

     One protester carried a sign stating, “The Mission View Should Not Be Dump Trucks.”  Then, followed by others waving their signs, she moved to the freeway overpass where drivers of cars and trucks speeding by below honked their support. 

     “We waved and they honked back,” said Paul Mitchell who lives at Cataldo.  He also expressed the predominant sentiment among those who came to let their feelings be known. “Having a repository in a flood area is really a bad idea.”

     Water, in some places more than three feet deep, covers most of the 19 acres planned for the repository which boarders on a wetland. According to an earlier Spokesman story, the dump, being planned by the EPA and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is a place “…where people can dump lead-tainted soil and other mine waste.”

     In the same story, John Lawson, then with the Idaho DEQ, estimated that once the state completes its plans, the repository “…eventually could hold a half-million yards of waste.”

     Original plans called for the dump to be 60 feet high but new proposals place it at 30 feet.

     While many protestors were concerned with dangers of more mine waste being added to an already contaminated flood plane and adding more pollution to the Coeur d’Alene River others expressed the conviction that the people who live in the area had no real voice in the plans. 

     Susan Melka who lives at Powderhorn Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene said she was there to support the protest because, “I’m tired of the powers-that-be dumping their refuse on people who are powerless.”

     Many protestors complained that they did not know about the plans to build a repository until they read about it in the paper.

     Area resident, Janice Jackson echoed those sentiments.  “It’s crazy to put it across from the Mission. Government agencies are compromised so much with business men and politicians that they do not make good decisions.

     Barbara Miller, director of the SVRC, said that she felt encouraged that people were finally speaking out to bring about change and insist on a voice in determining what is best for them and the place in which they live.  “They no longer feel intimidated,” she said.

About the Cataldo Mission Repository Site 

The following is a response of the Silver Valley Community Resource Center to an op-ed editorial written and submitted to the Coeur d ‘Alene Press.

The Guest Opinion by Terry Harwood, Basin Commission Director didn’t mention that the East Mission Flats Repository at the Cataldo Mission Exit is opposed by 600 citizens who signed a petition against the location of the repository and by several environmental organizations. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is expressing concerns as well. The two agencies are promoting upcoming meetings and make no mention of those who oppose the site.

The wetland/floodplain/floodway status of the area is a major concern of local residents that have witnessed the flooding in this area. The site is within a Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain. ITD on 2/7/06 expressed concern that in "1996 the worst case scenario was water over the shoulder in northern lanes of I-90" from the area planned for the repository. A project to rebuild parts of I-90 and the CDA River bridge structure in that area is being planned. Eastside Road district wrote a letter to DEQ/EPA in Dec. 2006 expressing the flooding concern, the road access and bridge use and oppose the location as well.

Groundwater protection is another consideration that has not been addressed completely enough. There is concern that the water used to irrigate at the Mission will be contaminated so that it no longer will be safe for children to play or families to spread blankets on the grass There is wildlife habitat of moose, deer, migratory birds, muskrat, otter that frequent the site. A biological assessment wasn’t done before the site was disturbed. This is a violation of Section 404 of the Clear Water Act.

Disturbing the potential Native American artifacts buried in this historical agricultural land used by the Tribe is possible. In addition the height of the contaminated soil would harm the viewshed from the Cataldo Mission which is a National Historical Landmark. On Sept. 17, 1998, Silver Valley Community Resource Center wrote in a letter to Chuck Clarke, EPA Reg. Ten Administrator that "the citizens of the Silver Valley did not want any more dumping of any kind of waste by anyone ever again in our community". The organization has been deeply invested in the human health risk exposure related to lead and other heavy metals that are still contaminating the site and extended Superfund site as well as the five generations of families who are presently living with chronic lead poisoning health problems.

The citizens want a true clean-up that would not move contaminated soil around in a floodplain and one that will give the greatest protection to our children and human health. Mr. Harwood’s remarks mostly centered on reducing costs for the repository. 

Dr. Bob Colonna, PhD Consultant for  SVCRC

"Dishonest people are very skilled and ingenious at disguising their perversion of the truth" Author unknown

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