Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Idaho

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Affidavits filed in 4th District Court in Boise April 27 dispute a final Idaho Department of Environmental Quality report confirming preliminary conclusions from February that children in Silver Valley schools are safe from lead exposure. The study for the state was conducted in response to a lawsuit over school safety statewide. Silver Valley is home to the Bunker Hill Superfund site, where the federal Environmental Protection Agency for years has led the cleanup of heavy-metal pollution from a century of lead, silver and zinc mining and smelting. A document in the federal court action by the federal government and the tribe against ASARCO mining company over the valley cleanup said the prevalence of elevated blood-lead levels in children was much higher than those cited in the state's Schools 2000 report, Tina Paddock charged in one affidavit. The former Wallace resident who now lives in McMinnville, Ore., continued, "Until a scientifically based study is carried out by an independent group ... the children ... may be exposed to excessive amounts of lead until otherwise proved." In the Osburn Elementary School, officials let fountains run for an hour before school each day to flush lead out of pipes and continue to test water quality.