The federal Environmental Protection Agency said it will delay a decision on whether to list a log yard at St. Maries which is leaking creosote in to the St. Joe River as a Superfund cleanup project. Last year the EPA said listing the four-acre city-owned tract was the only effective way to cleanup the area. But city officials, state leaders and Carney Products, which leases the land, rallied against the proposal. The site is on tribal land. Chairman Ernie Stensgar said the tribe, which originally called for the site to be listed, supports the city's request to do a study if the works gets done in a timely manner. Sen. Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, arranged for scientists from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory to investigate the site under a special program permitting technical assistance to communities. St. Maries Mayor Ernie Pendell said the city and Carney would conduct the tests, estimated at $200,000. A pole treatment plant operated at the site for more than 30 years. Creosote, a waterproofing agent, is a carcinogen.
Part of the recent settlement reached by Coeur d'Alene Mines and Callahan Mining and the state over mining waste cleanup in the Silver Valley has the community of Osburn concerned. The deal calls for an 80-acre site on Yellowstone Avenue to be deeded to the federal government to be used as a waste dump during the cleanup. The site encompasses hills just north of town where people snowmobile, four-wheel and pick huckleberries. The settlement, which still must be approved, is the result of the largest Superfund lawsuit to be tried. It was filed by the federal government and the tribe for a projected $3 billion cleanup cost. Representatives of the federal EPA stress that the plan is not final and other sites could be tapped to hold debris from mine waste cleanup in the basin. "If nothing else, we will file suit," said Ron Lyon, who has lived on Yellowstone Avenue for 50 years. "This is going to affect our drinking water. You don't have to go down but 10 feet here to get water."