Project searches for lead in Coeur d’Alene River

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking sediment samples from the bed of the Coeur d’Alene River as part of a plan to stop lead from entering Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The Spokesman-Review reported that the $250,000 mapping project started this month and will involve hundreds of sediment samples.

The agency said the samples will help officials locate lead hot spots and where the river bottom is highly erodible. Ed Moreen, remedial project manager for the agency, said the information will be used to design projects targeting the worst pockets of lead.

Each year about 390 tons of lead from past mining operations washes out of the river at Harrison and into Lake Coeur d’Alene. That’s enough to fill about 22 dump trucks.

“Eighty-five percent of the lead that shows up at Harrison is coming from this riverbed,” said Moreen.

Jamie Brunner of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality said most of the lead sinks to the bottom of the lake. She said swimmers are at a low risk of ingesting harmful levels of lead.

The lead comes from upstream mines where companies, before modern pollution laws took effect, dumped mining waste into the river. The lead over decades has spread out in the flood plain. Each spring migrating tundra swans die from ingesting lead that has ended up in marshes along the river.

Moreen said sediment samples show the pollution is layered 4 to 5 feet deep through the riverbed. Samples from pre-mining days have lead levels of 50 to 70 parts per million, but areas with mining waste have lead concentrations of 60,000 parts per million.

Money for the work is coming from a $263 million settlement with Hecla Mining Co. The company agreed to the settlement two years ago.

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

After work to address issues, Lynnwood gets clean audit

The city has benefited from increased revenues from sales tax.

Bolshevik replaces BS in Eyman’s voters pamphlet statement

The initiative promoter also lost a bid to include a hyperlink to online coverage of the battle.

Man with shotgun confronts man on toilet about missing phone

Police say the victim was doing his business when the suspect barged in and threatened him.

Detectives seek suspect in woman’s homicide

Alisha Michelle Canales-McGuire was shot to death Wednesday at a home south of Paine Field.

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

Smith Island habitat restoration cost to rise $1.2 million

The project is intended to increase survival rates for juvenile chinook salmon.

Jim Mathis, the Vietnam veteran whose Marysville garden was recently featured in The Herald, died Wednesday. Mathis, who suffered from PTSD and cancer, found solace in his beautiful garden. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Vietnam veteran Jim Mathis found peace in his garden

The Marysville man who served two tours died Wednesday after suffering from cancer and PTSD.

Most Read