EPA eager to reopen mine that poisoned North Idaho

News Type: Regional, Federal Source: Mountain West News
Click here to read the article: https://mountainwestnews.org/north-idahos-pollution-time-bomb-a6301dcf2b4d

The Bunker Hill Mine deposited 75 million tons of toxic sludge in Lake Coeur d’Alene, and the lead and zinc are still flowing. So far, much of the metals pouring down from Silver Valley has settled innocuously on the bottom of the lake, undiffused in the overlying water. But the pollution is a ticking time bomb—and Trump’s EPA is only hastening its detonation.

“This watershed needs time to heal, and billions of dollars of remedial cleanup, to become a functioning ecosystem again,” says Phil Cernera, an environmental scientist for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, whose lands include most of the southern half of the lake.

The Trump EPA doesn’t do healing. In March, the agency disclosed a shocker: After months of secret talks, it had signed an agreement with a Canadian company to reopen the Bunker Hill Mine. Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator until his ouster in July, said in a statement that the pact would restore mining jobs, contribute $20 million toward cleanup costs for the Bunker Hill Mine, and provide almost $1 million a year for water treatment. In exchange, the new Bunker Hill Mining Corp. and the property’s previous operator were absolved of any responsibility for past toxic releases. The slate, if not the Coeur d’Alene watershed, would be wiped clean.