FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1994

ENR (202) 616-0189 TDD (202) 514-1888

FEDERAL COURT APPROVES IDAHO SUPERFUND CLEANUP AGREEMENT: MINING COMPANIES TO CLEAN UP COMMUNITIES NEAR BUNKER HILL SUPERFUND SITE WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Six mining companies will dig up and remove lead and other heavy metals from more than 1,300 residential yards in northern Idaho under a settlement approved by a federal district court, the Department of Justice announced. The cleanup, which will also include commercial areas and rightsof-way, is valued at more than $40 million and will be overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Idaho. The settling defendants also have agreed to pay up to $8 million to the Environmental Protection Agency for costs related to the Site cleanup. A number of communities totaling 6,000 residents within the Bunker Hill, Idaho Superfund site are heavily contaminated after more than 100 years of mining, ore processing, and smelting operations conducted by various companies within and upstream of the site. Cleanup work required by the settlement agreement began earlier this summer under an agreement between EPA and the mining companies, and the remainder will now proceed under the settlement, which was approved by the court November 17. Highest priority will be given to yards where young children and pregnant women live. "This settlement shows how successful Superfund negotiations can clean up pollution right in our backyards," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources. "The court's order lays the groundwork for a cleanup of an important portion of this large and technically challenging Superfund site." "This settlement will result in the cleanup of the residential yards, commercial properties, and other areas in which the 6,000 residents of the Bunker Hill Site live and work each day," said Charles Clarke, EPA Regional Administrator. "This cleanup will greatly reduce the health risk posed by contamination that has been deposited in the area over the last hundred years, especially the risk posed to children who are most susceptible to harm from lead and other hazardous substances found at the Site." Under the settlement, the mining companies, ASARCO Inc., Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation, Hecla Mining Company, Callahan Mining Company, Sunshine Precious Metals Inc., and Sunshine Mining Company, will clean up populated areas of the site and Page Ponds. The towns of Kellogg, Pinehurst, Smelterville, Page, and Wardner, as well as residential areas of Elizabeth Park, Ross Ranch, and Montgomery Gulch will be cleaned up. Roughly 1,350 residential yards with soil lead levels that exceed 1,000 parts per million will be cleaned up by replacing the top soil and vegetation. About 400 yards have already been replaced through removal actions over the last several summers. At least 200 yards will be cleaned up each year, beginning with the most contaminated areas. Replacing the yards involves removing from 6" to 12" inches of top soil. The contaminated

soil is then taken to a soil repository within the site, clean soil is put in its place, and new sod is planted. The clean up of rights-of-way and commercial properties will involve removing soil where there is high potential for exposure to contaminants and capping the remaining contaminated soils in place. The Page Ponds, tailings ponds owned by ASARCO, will be closed under the consent decree, and the marshes that surround the ponds will be restored if possible. Existing water wells within the site will be closed and residents who obtain water from wells will be hooked up to a municipal supply system. In his November 17 opinion, federal district court Judge Harold L. Ryan wrote, "[t]he proposed settlement represents great potential benefit to the citizens and environment of the affected areas, as well as being fair and reasonable to the rights and concerns of the defendants." The United States will continue to pursue other potentially responsible parties in connection with the Bunker Hill Site, including Gulf USA Corporation and its subsidiary Pintlar Corporation, which are now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. ### 94-681