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NRDAR News



Notice of Lodging of Consent Decree for the Coeur D’Alene Basin Site in Northern Idaho – 30 day comment period


02/04/2011

lower Coeur d'Alene basin
Local wildlife and migratory birds benefit from a NRDAR Trustee project, led by FWS in the lower Coeur d'Alene basin. Photo credit: EPA.

A proposed Consent Decree (http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html) for an agreement between The United States and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Lookout Mountain Mining and Milling Company and Silver Bowl, Inc. was entered in court and made available for public comments (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-1979.pdf). The Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture and the Coeur D’Alene Tribe, as co-trustees, are claiming that the companies are liable for natural resource damages in connection with releases of hazardous substances at or from Operable Unit 3 (Coeur d’Alene Basin Site) of the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund Site in Northern Idaho.

The settlement is based on a determination that Lookout Mountain Mining and Milling Company and Silver Bowl, Inc have no ability to pay response costs and natural resource damages and still maintain their basic business operations. The agreement requires, among other things, that the companies pay two percent of net smelter returns generated from any future mining activities for the next 50 years.

The Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund Site, located in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin, is one of the largest environmental and human health cleanup efforts in the country. Historic mining practices generated an estimated 70 to 100 million tons of mining waste that are now spread throughout regional streams, rivers, flood plains and lakes. The contamination resulting from these mining practices affects all media and poses public health risks. Ecological affects include sterile river regions and hundreds of avian deaths each year.