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June 21, 2009 in Idaho
Jesse Tinsley photo

Julie Sowards, 52, sits with her mother, Rosemarie Phillips, left, at the family farm near Northport.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Bob Jackman reads from health studies outside his home on a hillside above the Columbia River near Northport on June 5. Jackman, who retired to the area in the 1970s, has been researching the smelter.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Matt Wolohan stands by the Columbia River near Northport. Wolohan lost an eye to ocular melanoma and knows of five other cases in the area. “I’m reluctant to say that pollution in the river caused it,” Wolohan said, but he no longer swims there.

Jesse Tinsley photo

Julie Sowards, 52, navigates the rocky shores of the Columbia River near Northport earlier this month near the farm where she grew up. As a kid, she swam in the shallows and backwaters of the river where heavy metals from a Canadian smelter settled out. She blames exposure to toxins in the river for her multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis, both autoimmune diseases.

Kimberly Lusk photo