Asarco is a little late but correct in voicing its contention that the cleanup of the Union Pacific rail-line-turned-bike-trail was inadequate. Most of the lead, arsenic, cadmium and zinc that dripped and slopped from open gondola cars traveling to and from the Kellogg smelter are still there despite the cosmetic solution afforded by turning the Plummer to Mullan right-of-way into a bike trail. It was a deliberate misuse of the Rails to Trails Act and the Rail Banking Act, two pieces of excellent congressional legislation that were never intended to shield a polluter from compliance with CERCLA (Superfund).
Yet, that is what happened. Despite strong citizen opposition to the scheme, bulldozers scraped aside the surface, and workers paved only a width of 10 feet, leaving the toxins where they still lie with only a few inches of asphalt to protect bikers, property owners, the lake and river from the tons of heavy metals that leach from the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes to join the contamination flowing westward from the second-rate cleanup of the basin.
Bob and Jeri McCroskey