Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 32° Clear

Down To Earth

Another Green Monday: From Cataldo to the White House

I've known Barbara Miller for several years and she is one of the most inspiring activists we have, fighting for the cleanup of mining contamination in the Silver Valley. I'm happy to report that on Wednesday, she'll be attending a forum called by President Obama's Council on Environmental Quality at the White House with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to discuss the concerns of affected citizens and the Eastern Mission Flats Repository.

Through her work at the Silver Valley Community Resource Center, she has been critical of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for moving forward on the Eastern Mission Flats Repository. The repository is designed to contain contaminated soil from years of mining pollution. There are some pretty serious allegations, including a "no guarantee pollution will not leach and contaminate recreational areas, beaches, towns and communities."

The non-profit has worked on cleanup issues in the Silver Valley since 1981. When news broke about a repository in a floodplain–and across from Idaho’s oldest building at Cataldo Mission–the group gathered enough resources for the EPA Inspector General to come visit the site. He okayed it on the contingent a flood monitoring system was included. Later, with help from Congressman Walt Minnick, EPA Superfund Administrator Mathy Stanislaus visited the site. He okayed it too. Yet that did not stop SVCRC from arguing for a moratorium on the repository given they received 2,000 signatures in opposition due to construction beginning before the public comment period ended. All of this added up and one can't help but laugh in disbelief at the situation however the running joke is running dry.

After the jump, check the press release from Silver Valley Action:

Long time Silver Valley community activist Barbara Miller has been invited and will be attending a forum called by President Obama's Council on Environmental Quality at the White House in Washington, DC, Wednesday, December 15. On hand will be EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, National Environmental Justice Director, Lisa Garcia as well as other senior officials to affirm their commitment to environmental justice.

"I'm looking forward to bringing the concerns of affected citizens to the attention of the White House and those who will be in attendance" said Miller who has worked on many levels of cleanup of the Bunker Hill/CDA Basin Superfund site for many years. The Bunker Hill site extends from the Montana Idaho border on into Washington State. Heavy metal mine waste is spread throughout a designated 1500 square mile site and children continue to be exposed to lead unknowingly and are not being tested.

One of the most important issues Miller will be addressing is the Old Mission Repository and why EPA is refusing to acknowledge CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act law that governs EPA and mandates Community Invovlement. The SVCRC has collected more than 2000 signatures from individuals and received the support of enviornmental justice groups linked to the Superfund site including the CD'A tribe and more than 75 groups nationwide all opposing the Old Mission Repository being established in a floodplain at the National Historic Landmark. Idaho Department of Quality spokesperson reported aresenic being found in the groundwater near the repository.

The National Environmental Justice office is currently working to advance EPA's 2014 plan with goals and plans to engage affected communities to:

Protect health in communities over-burdened by pollution

Empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment

Establish partnerships with local, state, and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

The White House is not providing any financial assistance to attend the forum, anyone who would like to contribute to the SVCRC may do so by checking the website at those who want may sign the online petition opposing the Mission Repository or send donations to SVCRC, PO Box 362, Kellogg, Idaho 83837. Any amount will be put to good use of the organization and its outreach.

Down To Earth

The DTE blog is committed to reporting and sharing environmental news and sustainability information from across the Inland Northwest.