EPA work progresses in Canyon Creek

Staff Reporter | September 10, 2020 9:30 PM

WALLACE — Construction efforts at the Canyon Complex Repository/Waste Consolidation Area (CCR/WCA) continue to move forward, but the finish line is in sight.

According to EPA Project Manager Bonnie Arthur, the new complex will be able to hold more than 1 million cubic yards of materials, including the 550,000 cubic yards of contaminated materials that currently sit in the nearby leaking SVNRT (aka the Lower Burke Canyon Repository).

Repositories and waste consolidation areas like this one reduce health risks from metals like lead and arsenic and the EPA expects this summer’s work will wrap up in early November, and then the facility will begin receiving mine waste materials next summer.

“The Basin Cleanup Team (The Coeur d’Alene Work Trust, IDEQ and EPA) has a lot to be proud of this construction season, making great strides, completing several projects and setting the stage for even more progress and success next year,” said EPA Senior Public Information Officer Mark MacIntyre.

The EPA did hear public concerns surrounding their widening of the road that connects their clean rock quarry to the new repository.

The widening process resulted in brush and trees being cut back, which definitely changed the scenic landscape of the Canyon Creek area.

The EPA has committed to reseeding the areas where they widened out the road in October, which should result in new growth in those areas when next spring rolls around.

After those half million cubic yards are moved into the new repository, crews with the EPA and the Coeur d’Alene Work Trust will have room for another 800,000 cubic yards which is one of the biggest features that is coming with this new waste consolidation area.

“This repository gives us room for future cleanup projects in the Canyon Creek area,” Arthur said. “We have the Hecla Star Complex project set for 2022. We have several other projects up there as well. We appreciate how patient the community has been through all of this.”

Later this summer, you may have noticed a number of new signs around the project reminding people to avoid going onto private property where construction work is proceeding and heavy equipment is stored.

These signs will help protect public health and safety, and on-site construction equipment.

While signs will be posted, the EPA expects to keep the roads open unless there are problems with public safety or vandalism.

“Workplace safety continues to be a top priority for everyone involved. Heavy equipment and other construction tools make this a special challenge that we recognize daily. We continue to take special workplace precautions to keep our workers safe and healthy in these times of COVID-19,” MacIntyre said. “We especially want to thank the community for bearing with us, as our operations ‘footprint’ shrinks and grows during the construction season. Our goal is to get the most work done — in the safest manner possible — in the shortest amount of time, reducing our overall impact to local property owners and neighborhoods.”

For more information or concerns, please contact Arthur at 206-553-4072.