Monday, August 16, 2010

Superfund Cleanup in Idaho Draws Local Opposition

August 13, 2010 - People who live around a toxic former silver mining complex in Idaho have a message for federal environmental officials who want to expand a lengthy cleanup effort: Go home, your help is no longer wanted.

Despite the government's best intentions, some locals think a prolonged federal presence will scare away businesses by sending a message that the Silver Valley is a dangerous place to live. Residents and politicians in this conservative region also believe it's a waste of taxpayer dollars and that the real intention of the government is to shut down the remaining mines.

"They've got their environmental science degree from some place like Berkeley and they drive their Prius to the back hills of Idaho and here are a bunch of miners and they want to do what they think is best for us," said attorney James McMillan.

The Environmental Protection Agency has spent nearly 20 years cleaning up the Superfund site in Kellogg that was once one of the most-polluted places in the country, with arsenic and lead stripping the hillsides of vegetation and poisoning the blood of children.

The cleanup efforts have greened the mountains and improved human health, although pollution still exists. Some streams and rivers are so polluted that stretches have no aquatic life, and migrating swans that land on them die.


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