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EPA orders Lapwai School District maintenance shop to cleanup threat to nearby drinking water wells

Release Date: 01/22/2013
Contact Information: Wally Moon, EPA/Seattle, 206-553-6323, moon.wally@epa.gov Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle, 206-553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov

(Seattle – January 22, 2013) The Lapwai School District in Lapwai, ID, must clean up an inactive drywell contaminated with solvents (TCE & PCE) to protect nearby public drinking water wells. The cleanup will be conducted under a legal order issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The drywell lies under an asphalt parking lot at the Lapwai School District (District) bus maintenance facility (204 District Road in Lapwai), which is separated from the Lapwai Elementary School by a fence. Two drinking water wells are located about 150 feet northwest of the drywell.

The latest sampling results available for the well nearest the drywell (2010) did not show contamination, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has recently taken more samples as a precaution. The sample results should be available by the end of the month.

A routine EPA inspection discovered facility drains emptying into the nearby drywell. The District stopped using the drywell shortly thereafter. Since then, EPA, BIA and the Nez Perce Tribe have been working together to evaluate the contamination.

The drywell cleanup project will begin the first week of February. Cleanup will include removing contaminated soil and drywell sludge followed by confirmatory sampling. The cleanup will be led by a contractor hired by the Lapwai School District with EPA and the Nez Perce Tribe providing monitoring and oversight. The project is expected to take approximately one week.

BIA will continue to monitor the public drinking water wells regularly for contamination in accordance with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.