This summer, crews continue to remove mining waste from north Idaho’s Silver Valley. It’s a process that has been going for more than 30 years. Next year is expected to be an important one in Kellogg as a private company hired by the federal government will begin building a new water treatment plant that will increase the volume of contaminated water that will be processed. That means far fewer heavy metals being discharged into the south fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. That will also mean much less contamination downstream, working its way toward Lake Coeur d’Alene.
During that cleanup process, the Environmental Protection Agency and its federal, state and local partners have also tried to track where that pollution is going and clean it up when feasible. That work will continue as well, maybe for generations.
Yesterday, EPA officials leading the cleanup took a group of about 40 interested people on a bus tour to show their successes and challenges. Afterward, we talked with EPA remedial project manager Ed Moreen about what we saw.