Monday, September 23, 2013

S-R: Getting the Lead Out of the CdA River Basin

Posted By on Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 9:22 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency knows it has a formidable task ahead in remediating hundreds of tons of lead in the Lake Coeur d'Alene. But it has to map out out the extent of the problem first. That's why a $250,000 mapping project got underway earlier this month to track the lead which has washed out of the Coeur d'Alene River into the lake, causing reddish soil to stain the banks of the waterways.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reports that EPA officials are collecting samples in the Idaho panhandle and pinpointing hot spots where the river is "highly erodible." It's estimated that 390 tons of lead from old mining operations wash into Lake Coeur d'Alene each year—enough to fill about 22 dump trucks.

The lead has since spread out in the region's flood plain, and EPA officials say each spring, migrating tundra swans continue to die after ingesting lead from the marshes along the river.

The funding for the project is coming from a $263 million settlement between feds and the Hecla Mining Company.

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