Project complete, Idaho “gets the keys” for the new, multi-million dollar Silver Valley community asset
(Kellogg, ID – October 21, 2021) — The State of Idaho has officially taken possession of the newly upgraded Central Treatment Plant in Kellogg, Idaho. The recently completed $50 million project was undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) and their contractor, Wood Environmental and Infrastructure Services, with oversight by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The project is part of the larger, multi-agency/multi-state Coeur d’Alene Basin Cleanup, underway from the Montana state line to the Washington state line in northern Idaho.
Begun in 2017 in an effort to reduce the volume of heavy metals discharged to Idaho’s Coeur D’Alene River, USACOE officials supervised demolition of several parts of the old plant while launching an upgrade to the remaining parts of the dated, aging facility.
Dan McCracken, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Regional Administrator in Coeur d’Alene, praised his staff for making this transition a reality.
“There has been a tremendous amount of hard work to get to this point,” said McCracken. “The number of people involved in successfully completing a project of this magnitude is truly impressive. I’m especially proud of the work done by our staff at DEQ to have the State of Idaho well-prepared to take on this responsibility.”
Rod Zion, Senior Project Engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, welcomes the project resolution and management transition to the State of Idaho.
“The work that we’ve accomplished here represents the culmination of a lot of collaborative effort between the Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, the State of Idaho, and Wood Environmental,” Zion said. “The project is a large investment of cleanup work in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin, and it’s been an honor to help improve the environment and the lives of people living here.”
According to Calvin Terada, Director of EPA’s Superfund Cleanup office in Seattle, the project has a two-fold benefit for the valley.
“This is a day to celebrate,” said EPA’s Terada. “The rebuilt plant benefits the local community in two important ways: First, by providing much better treatment of acid mine drainage from the Bunker Hill Mine. And second, by using a state-of-the-art system to intercept, collect, and treat the area’s contaminated groundwater before it enters the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.”
The original plant was constructed in 1974 by Bunker Hill Corporation, the owner and operator of the smelter complex and Bunker Hill Mine at the time. In 1983, the Bunker Hill Mine and Smelting Complex was added to the National Priorities List as a Superfund site.
The new plant removes zinc and other metal compounds by chemically precipitating them in a sludge that will be disposed in an engineered impoundment area expected to last at least 30 years.
Prior to the upgrades, the plant’s water treatment capacity was approximately 2,500 gallons per minute, or gpm. The upgraded facility will be able to treat up to 8,000 gpm and is designed to accommodate future expansion to 10,000 gpm.
DEQ’s McCracken summarized by looking to the future: “Our new plant should significantly improve water quality in the South Fork. We’re ready to take the baton now and do our part to operate the facility and improve river conditions.”