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Upper Basin Cleanup “Roadmap” Released by EPA

Release Date: 08/28/2012
Contact Information: Mark MacIntyre / EPA-Seattle / 206-553-7302 / macintyre.mark@epa.gov

State of Idaho & Coeur d’Alene Tribe Concur on 30 year, $635 million plan.

(Seattle – August 28, 2012) A roadmap for the next 30 years of cleanup in the Upper Coeur d’Alene River Basin came into sharper focus today, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered the signed, written framework, called an Interim Record of Decision Amendment (RODA).

According to Dan Opalski, Director of EPA’s Superfund Office in Seattle, the weighty document reflects increased activity in some areas and less emphasis on others, when compared to the July 2010 Proposed Plan.

“We listened closely to all perspectives about how to provide the greatest environmental and human health improvement while balancing the duration and costs,” said EPA’s Opalski. “This decision sets forth an ambitious, yet thoughtful and methodical approach to reducing risks from metals, making the Coeur d’Alene Basin an even safer, healthier place to live, work and play.”

Prior to signature, the EPA received written concurrence from the State of Idaho and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Letters of support were also received from the State Of Washington, The Spokane Tribe, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). EPA worked closely with the Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission (Basin Commission) to hone the approach outlined in the RODA.

The Upper Basin cleanup is now expected to cost about $635 million over 30 years.

RODA

A RODA, or Record of Decision of Amendment, captures and documents fundamental changes to a cleanup plan. An amendment can reflect new information gathered as the cleanup progresses and can also set priorities based on cleanup goals and public input. This action selects cleanup work for the Upper Basin that was not included in the original Interim Record of Decision (ROD) signed in 2002.
The goals of the cleanup remain the same:

  • To improve surface water quality,
  • To protect earlier cleanup work from recontamination,
  • To clean up contamination sources, and
  • To prevent contamination from moving downstream.
This ROD Amendment focuses on the most serious contamination sources, but it is not as comprehensive as the 2010 proposed cleanup plan. EPA hopes the actions outlined in the ROD Amendment will meet the stated water quality and other goals. But due to the reduced scope, there is less certainty that they will ultimately be met. For this reason, the cleanup is considered an “interim remedy.”

Comments

Between July 12, 2010, and November 23, 2010, EPA responded to over 6,700 comments on the Proposed Plan. After carefully considering all the comments, we responded to each and then summarized EPA’s responses to general categories of comments. Many of the comments EPA received helped shape the changes reflected in the RODA.

Next Steps

On-the-ground work under this RODA is expected start as soon this fall and design work is already underway. A draft Implementation Plan will be available shortly for public review and comment.

The Implementation Plan provides an overview of EPA’s plan for doing cleanup actions outlined in the RODA during the next 10 years. It also provides an overall vision and strategy for setting priorities and doing the cleanup.

Opalski further underscored the Agency’s dedication to working with local communities and the Basin Commission as the cleanup moves forward.

“We’re building on a solid track record of success and accomplishment in the Basin,” said Opalski. “We remain committed to working closely with the Basin Commission and will listen carefully to Basin communities as we perform the cleanup, monitor results, and continually improve and streamline our work.”

For more information about the Coeur d’Alene Basin Cleanup, visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/sites/bh