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Corps waiting on Blackwell soil tests

Duane Hagadone’s engineers missed the May 1 target to provide a federal agency with new soil samples from the Blackwell Island Channel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still waiting for the report that is expected to show whether the soil contains toxic heavy metals, such as lead. The corps asked Hagadone to do additional soil tests before it decides whether to issue a dredging permit for the controversial project.

Hagadone wants to deepen the channel to allow for larger boats as part of an upgrade to the marina.

Brad Daly, regulatory division chief of the corps’ Walla Walla district, said once the new samples are received, a sediment evaluation team including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality will review the results and the analysis used.

Daly said he expects Hagadone to revise the dredging plan based on the samples.

Hagadone’s engineer, Jim Coleman of Coleman Engineering, didn’t return several phone calls seeking comment this week.

The corps plans to release only a summary of the soil test report, not the actual sampling analysis.

Representatives from Kootenai Environmental Alliance and the Center for Justice are concerned the public can’t access the full report and use independent professionals to confirm the findings.

Daly said the corps acts as the independent, third-party reviewer to ensure Hagadone’s analysis is correct.

“They need to trust us,” Daly said. “This is our job, and we take it seriously.”

Once the corps completes its review, it will have a public meeting or hearing so residents can comment on the proposal before a final permit decision is made.

Hagadone also must request a permit from the state Lands Department.

Daly said it is possible to have a joint public hearing.

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