Feds dump mine waste in Idaho flood plain

The Northwest News Network produced this fantastic story for KUOW News about how the federal stimulus package has sped up the disposal of arsenic- and lead-contaminated mine spoils on a flood plain off I-90 in Northern Idaho.

The East Mission Flats Repository is a Superfund site designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to receive the remains of Idaho's toxic mining history despite being in a floodplain inundated just last year.  Community groups are concerned that the area will flood again, spreading more toxic metals into state waters.

The pile of waste will stand up to 34 feet high within view from where Idaho's oldest building stands in the Old Mission State Park, sacred to both the Coeur d'Alene Indians and the Jesuits.

Yakima schools combat contaminants with dirt

Two elementary schools in Yakima are getting new layers of dirt for their playgrounds to cover arsenic- and lead- tainted soil, reports Adriana Janovich of the Yakima Herald-Republic. The contaminants stem from pesticides once used on orchards that grew on the sites on which the schools were built. Lead can cause neurological problems with chronic exposure, and arsenic is a known carcinogen, according to the EPA. The levels  at both schools exceed the EPA's maximum limits. Construction is being done during the summer to prevent distractions to students, but the other six local schools in need of work will have to wait until at least next summer.

– Emily Linroth