Coeur d'Alene

Rita Hibbard's picture

The costly toxic legacy of the industrial age


The largest environmental bankruptcy settlement in U.S. history will pump more than $800 million into the Pacific Northwest to cleanup up tons of lead and arsenic wastes near Everett, Tacaoma and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

"With this settlement we are in a much stronger position to assure that people's children and grandchildren have a cleaner place to play and grow up," said Dan Opalski, deputy administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Northwest.

In the Puget Sound region, the waste came from smelters near Tacoma and Everett operated for more than 100 years by Asarco and its predecessors, and financed by industrialists including the Rockefellers and Guggenheims, extracting lead, arsenic, zinc and copper from sites around the country. The smelters spewed pollution into the air, that deposited contaminated soil around homes, schools, playgrounds and parks in the region.

Everett will receive nearly $45 million in clean up funds, which will go towards evaluating and cleaning up about 600 homes in the north part of the city, the Everett Herald reports.

Carol Smith's picture

Number of homeless students on the rise


It’s easy to spot homeless people on the street. It’s not so easy to spot them in schools. And yet as Jody Lawrence-Turner of the Spokesman–Review reports, there are more homeless students than ever in Eastern Washington and Idaho.

School districts there are “well on their way to surpassing the number of homeless students enrolled last year by at least 20 percent,” she writes. The trend mirrors a nationwide rise in the number of students who have had to leave homes that were foreclosed on, who are living in shelters, or who are hopping from couch to couch.

The Spokesman-Review also put together a sortable database of homeless students by school district.

Washington ranks 12th-highest in the country for number of homeless children. Lack of stability for those kids can disrupt their learning, and their future.

U.S. Sens. Patty Murray, and Al Franken have each introduced bills that would provide more funding for transportation and outreach to help homeless kids.

 -- Carol Smith