In a move hailed by environmental groups, Hagadone Hospitality will haul 18,000 cubic yards of dirt tainted with heavy metals to a landfill instead of storing it in the Spokane River’s floodplain.
The company plans to dredge a section of Lake Coeur d’Alene as part of the Marina Yacht Club’s expansion on Blackwell Island. In earlier proposals, Hagadone Hospitality wanted to dispose of the dredged soil – which contains lead, arsenic and other metals – in lined pits on the island, which lies where the Spokane River flows out of the lake.
The metals were deposited in the lake during a century of upstream mining activity in the Coeur d’Alene basin.
Burying the soil would have required ongoing water quality monitoring, and restricted the property’s future use. After a cost analysis, company officials decided that hauling the soil to an approved landfill was a better option, said John Barlow, president of the Hagadone real estate holding company.
The region’s environmental groups, concerned about the potential for flooding to re-suspend the metals and wash them downstream, agreed.
“We consider this a victory for anyone who was concerned about placing a hazardous waste facility atop an island that experiences frequent flood events,” said Susan Drumheller, the Idaho Conservation League’s North Idaho associate.
The project sets the bar for future dredging activities and shoreline development, said Rick Eichstaedt, who heads the Center for Justice’s Spokane Riverkeeper program. He praised the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s staff for the project’s stringent monitoring guidelines, which led to Hagadone Hospitality’s decision to dispose of the contaminated dirt in a landfill.
During the dredging, DEQ will require Hagadone Hospitality to use coffer dams to limit erosion. Clean dirt dredged from the lake will be used as fill on the island.
Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Idaho River United and The Lands Council of Spokane also weighed in on the project.
“We’re glad they’re happy, because it’s not often they’re happy with what developers do,” Barlow said.
The work, which will be done over six years, will enlarge the marina and create a deeper port for large yachts.
Barlow said the company needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before construction can begin. DEQ’s requirements help shape the federal permit, ensuring that the work will meet Idaho’s water quality standards.