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EPA Releases $635 Million Plan For Upper Coeur d’Alene Basin 30-Year Cleanup
Posted on Friday, September 07, 2012 (PST)

Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delivered an Interim Record of Decision Amendment (RODA) that is being called a “roadmap” for the next 30 years of environmental cleanup in the upper Coeur d’Alene River basin in northern Idaho.

According to Dan Opalski, director of EPA’s Superfund Office in Seattle, the document reflects increased activity in some areas and less emphasis on others, when compared to the July 2010 “Proposed Plan.”

“We listened closely to all perspectives about how to provide the greatest environmental and human health improvement while balancing the duration and costs,” said Opalski. “This decision sets forth an ambitious, yet thoughtful and methodical approach to reducing risks from metals, making the Coeur d’Alene basin an even safer, healthier place to live, work and play.”

Prior to signature, the EPA received written concurrence from the state of Idaho and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Letters of support were also received from the state Of Washington, the Spokane Tribe, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. EPA worked with the Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission (Basin Commission) to hone the approach outlined in the RODA.

The Upper Basin cleanup is now expected to cost about $635 million over 30 years.

A RODA, or Record of Decision of Amendment, captures and documents fundamental changes to a cleanup plan. An amendment can reflect new information gathered as the cleanup progresses and can also set priorities based on cleanup goals and public input. This action selects cleanup work for the Upper Basin that was not included in the original Interim Record of Decision signed in 2002.

The goals of the cleanup remain the same:

-- To improve surface water quality,

-- To protect earlier cleanup work from recontamination,

-- To clean up contamination sources, and

-- To prevent contamination from moving downstream.

The ROD Amendment focuses on the most serious contamination sources, but it is not as comprehensive as the 2010 proposed cleanup plan. EPA officials say they hope the actions outlined in the ROD Amendment will meet the stated water quality and other goals. But due to the reduced scope, there is less certainty that they will ultimately be met. For this reason, the cleanup is considered an “interim remedy.”

Between July 12, 2010, and Nov. 23, 2010, EPA responded to over 6,700 comments on the proposed plan.

On-the-ground work under the RODA is expected start as soon this fall and design work is already underway. A draft Implementation Plan will be available shortly for public review and comment.

The Implementation Plan provides an overview of EPA’s plan for doing cleanup actions outlined in the RODA during the next 10 years. It also provides an overall vision and strategy for setting priorities and doing the cleanup.

For more information about the Coeur d’Alene Basin Cleanup, visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/sites/bh

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