News Releases

Murray Applauds Progress on Coeur d’Alene Basin Clean-Up Effort

Sep 11 2002

Signing will pave the way for environmental cleanup affecting the Spokane region

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray today spoke with Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Region 10 Administrator John Iani and praised his pledge to sign the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Coeur d'Alene Basin tomorrow.

The ROD outlines the EPA's thirty-year cleanup plan for the Basin, which is polluted with heavy metals from decades of mining in Idaho. Pollutants such as lead, zinc, silver and arsenic flow from Idaho into Washington state via the Spokane River.

"The signing of the ROD is great news for those of us who have been working to clean up the environment in the Basin. Like communities in Idaho, families in Washington state have been affected by the pollution in the Basin. They deserve action, not more delays," Senator Murray said. "I commend the states of Washington, Idaho as well as the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Spokane Tribe, EPA and other federal agencies for coming together to reach agreement on the ROD."

Senator Murray has repeatedly encouraged the EPA to sign the ROD since 2000. The finalized ROD is a prerequisite for cleanup activities in the Coeur d'Alene Basin.

The ROD details specific cleanup measures over the next three decades and will cost approximately $359 million. The interim plan includes removing contaminated soil near homes and cleaning up former mine sites in the upper region of the Basin.

The ROD also calls for the removal of 2.6 million cubic yards of polluted sediment from the lower Coeur d'Alene River. In Washington state, polluted sediments will be capped or removed at ten sites along the Spokane River and sediments will be removed from behind Upriver Dam. In addition, the EPA will conduct a "human health risk assessment" for the Spokane Tribe.

"I am delighted that the EPA is taking this significant step forward. I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that cleanup in the Basin begins as soon as possible," Murray added.

Murray is also a co-sponsor of legislation by California Senator Barbara Boxer to reinstate the Superfund tax on polluters so that more money is available to clean up polluted sites around the country, including the Coeur d'Alene Basin.