Popular beaches to become cleaner
State will remove polluted soil at four sites along river
Washington will spend $600,000 to clean up heavy metals from four popular Spokane River beaches this summer, reducing exposure risks for people and wildlife.
The work will be done at Barker Road on the north side of the river and at Islands Lagoon, Myrtle Point and Flora Road on the south side of the river.
Beach cleanup will begin in late summer when river levels are low and finish in the fall. Temporary closures at the beaches and along parts of the Centennial Trail are expected during the work.
Lead, arsenic, zinc and cadmium from historic mining activity were deposited on the beaches after washing downstream from Idaho’s Silver Valley. The Washington Department of Ecology will remove polluted soil and install a foot-thick protective gravel cap at the sites.
At the Flora Road beach, a new cap will be installed to replace the clean gravel that was washed away during last year’s high flows. The initial cleanup work at Flora Road was done in 2009. At each of the beaches, native vegetation will be planted to help stabilize the shoreline.
A 1998 study identified nine Spokane River beaches in Washington that were contaminated with heavy metals from upstream mining activity. Previous cleanup efforts targeted polluted soil at beaches at Starr Road, Island complex, Murray Road and Harvard Road North. The beach on the south side of the river at Barker Road remains on the cleanup list.
Money for this year’s cleanup effort comes from a $6 million fund to remove environmental toxins from sites in Eastern Washington. The fund gets its money through the state’s voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.