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EPA: Idaho's own bridge to nowhere

| June 27, 2010 10:00 PM

The EPA is suggesting that environmental cleanup in the Upper Coeur d’Alene Basin will cost an additional $1.28 billion and could last 50 to 90 years. This is outrageous!

Will anyone be able to stand up and stop this wasted use of government funds? Probably not.  The original Record of Decision was for about $350 million and based on the premise that there was an urgent need to protect human health in the Silver Valley. What they do not tell you is that no one in the United States has died from lead exposure for one or two decades and it had nothing to do with mine waste.

There were protests over the past 30 years by knowledgeable people who knew the vast amount of money spent on yard remediation was not necessary or effective in protecting human health, but the EPA had its Record of Decision and its computer model to justify this project.  No amount of “common sense” or even scientific facts could change the plan to spend 350 million dollars moving dirt around from one place to another.

Someone had the nerve to tell the EPA in the recent meeting that blood levels in the Silver Valley have been down to national levels for several years. The EPA’s answer is we must expand the project.  Did you notice in the CDA Press coverage of the meeting, Terry Harwood is quoted as saying, “Some sites don’t look expensive to clean up, but then you have to build a road to them and they become expensive.” Do I understand this right? We need to build roads to contaminated sites to protect the public from exposure to them?

If the past is any indicator of the present, we will have no control over the misuse of federal funding for the EPA’s favorite projects.  What is troubling is that the State of Idaho is responsible for 10 percent of the funding. Joyce Broadsword had the courage to mention this in her primary election statement. Do the math. Ten or twelve million may seem like nothing but with the State of Idaho cutting funding to vital programs, how can they justify spending it on the EPA’s Bridge to Nowhere? I hope our state government will deny any funding to expand the cleanup.

Harwood is quoted, “Where do you stop? We need to finish the cleanup job so everyone is treated the same.” If a job is not necessary to accomplish its stated purpose, why does it need to be finished or better yet, expanded? That makes no sense. Could this really be about saving jobs for the agency involved?

VINETTA R. SPENCER

Coeur d’Alene

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