The Silver Valley is one of the oldest and largest mining and smelting communities in the country. Mining began in the mid to early 1880s with cleanup starting nearly 100 years later in what is now known as the Bunker Hill Superfund Site.
Past mining practices left behind lead and other heavy metals throughout the area. Lead can pose a health risk. Learn more about limiting exposure and keeping your family healthy. Keep Clean, Eat Clean, Play Clean!
Our Kellogg Superfund Project Office serves as a local resource and is available to assist with questions and issues regarding the cleanup.
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Historic mining and milling methods disposed of tailings in rivers and streams, spreading contaminants throughout the floodplain of the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River. Lead and other metals continue to move through the Coeur d’Alene River system, floodplains, and the chain lakes today. Metals concentrations tend to be high on hillsides between Smelterville and Kellogg due to past smelter air emissions, and contamination is commonly found on and near historic mine and mill sites. Contamination also comes from large waste piles and waste rock. As a result, soil, sediment, ground water, and surface water became contaminated with lead and other heavy metals.
Cleanup processes included sampling residential yards and public spaces. After determining the level of contamination in residential yards, contaminated soil was removed and replaced with clean soil where needed. To assist property owners when digging, a visible cloth barrier was placed at the bottom depth where the soil was removed and clean soil was placed. Cleanup activities are ongoing for mine and mill sites, areas where people recreate, and many other places where health risks are higher because metals contamination is present and has not been cleaned up.
DEQ’s office in Kellogg serves as a local resource and is available to assist with questions and issues regarding the cleanup. DEQ, EPA, and Panhandle Health District staff work together to provide community outreach and education.
- Contact us! Contact our Kellogg Satellite Office or the Panhandle Health District.
- Participate in the Citizens Coordinating Council through the Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission.
- Receive EPA’s Basin Bulletin.
- If you live in the Coeur d’Alene Basin, participate in free annual blood lead testing. Contact the Panhandle Health District.
Daily work is ongoing with community members, property owners, and jurisdictions. DEQ, EPA, and the Panhandle Health District strives to inform the public about important project updates and opportunities to provide formal comments. We encourage comments and questions from the community.