The Environmental Protection Agency is postponing until fall the release of a draft cleanup plan for the Coeur d'Alene River Basin to allow expanded assessment of resident attitudes. That means the final strategy for cleaning up heavy metal contamination from a century of mining between Mullan and Lake Roosevelt in Washington will not be released until next year. The draft was scheduled for release in August. Officials say they hope the delay gives them more time to develop a plan acceptable to all parties - the tribe, area residents and state and local governments. The final cleanup strategy will focus on how best to protect human health and the environment in the basin. It is one of the most extensive such studies ever done, worked on by a consortium of federal and state agencies and tribal governments, costing an estimated $10.5 million. Both the Spokane Tribe and the state of Washington object to suggestions Lake Coeur d'Alene be dropped out of overall basin cleanup under the Superfund law because of its impact on downstream pollution in Washington.
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