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Spokane Tribe, Washington

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Washington state interests, including the Spokane Tribe, feel they have been left out of a cleanup of mining wastes generated in Idaho, yet there are worries about the stigma of a potential Superfund designation. Robert Martin, the Environmental Protection Agency national ombudsman, has been in the Inland Northwest surveying reaction to plans to clean up mine wastes in the Coeur d-Alene River Basin in Idaho. His agency also is doing a preliminary investigation into expanding Idaho's 21-square-mile Bunker Hill Superfund site along the Spokane River which flows into Washington from Lake Coeur d'Alene. Spokane city and county officials told Martin they fear a Superfund designation would dampen economic development. Members of the tribe told him EPA needs to do more sampling. "No one feels involved," Martin said. "Whether it's the state, or the mines, or the tribe or the city, everyone feels it's is all being decided on a level they can't reach. That's got to be addressed." Results are expected early next year from a major EPA study into the extent of lead and arsenic contamination of Spokane River beaches and possible remedies. Until then, any talk of a Superfund designation for the river is premature, state and local officials said.

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