Panhandle Health District 800-878-2364

Institutional Controls Program

Your health. Our focus.

The Institutional Controls Program (ICP) is a locally enforced set of rules and regulations designed to ensure the integrity of clean soil and other protective barriers placed over contaminants left throughout the Bunker Hill Superfund site. To find out if a property has been remediated, contact Panhandle Health District at 208-783-0707.

The ICP offers several services to help residents of the Bunker Hill Superfund Site maintain their barriers and protect their health. All residents are eligible to receive one (1) cubic yard of gravel or topsoil annually to maintain their barrier. The ICP also provides containers and pick-up services for contaminated soil disposal when a homeowner is undertaking a small excavation project. High efficiency HEPA vacuums are loaned out for the cleaning of residences free of charge.

Home renovation can be a source of lead exposure, especially in homes built before 1978. Homeowners involved in interior construction projects need to protect their health by controlling dust. The ICP offers plastic to segregate construction areas, lead certified respirators, and Tyvek suits free of charge. For more information call (208) 783-0707 or visit our Kellogg office at 35 Wildcat Way.

The ICP also provides education, sampling assistance, clean soils for small projects that need less than one cubic yard of material, pick-up of soil removed from small projects and a permanent disposal site for contaminated soils generated site-wide.

The ICP regulates and provides assistance with construction and renovation projects on building interiors that involve ceiling and attic work, insulation removal, and work in dirt basements and crawl spaces.

The fundamental purpose of the ICP is to protect the public health and assist local land transactions within the Superfund site.

History

The Silver Valley was founded over 100 years ago for its rich lead, zinc and silver mining opportunities. In early years, mining and milling methods were inefficient compared to today and resulted in resource minerals and other concentrated constituents (lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic) remaining in the tailings. It was typical at the time for tailings to be discharged into streams and across the floodplains. Metals in the tailings and the chemicals used in the milling process are hazardous to humans, fish, and waterfowl. Today, mines extract metals with a higher efficiency and operate under both state and federal environmental laws that greatly reduce potential impacts to the environment. Successful mining operations, tourism, and recreation endeavors continue side-by-side in the Silver Valley today.

Silver Valley mines stopped discharging mine tailings into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River in the mid 1960s. Deposits remain in the river system. Spring storms and floods wash the tailings downstream, redepositing them along the river and throughout the chain lakes and the Coeur d’Alene River Basin.

Mine tailings contain a number of contaminants, including lead. Lead can be a poison.

Remediation

The Bunker Hill Superfund Site, often referred to as the Coeur d’Alene River Basin Cleanup Site, is located in northern Idaho and eastern Washington where early mining and milling methods led to environmental contamination from mine wastes.

Clean Up Progress

  • Environmental cleanup has been under way since the 1980s. Cleanup has included cooperation among federal, state, tribe, industries, and local communities.
  • Over 7,000 residential yards, parks, commercial properties, and other public areas have been remediated by placing healthy soil and surface cover.
  • Children’s average blood lead levels remain generally low. Free blood lead testing is offered year round to site residents as a public health service.
  • An “Institutional Controls Program” helps keep remediated properties clean.
  • Cleanup also includes rehabilitation of mine and mill sites, railroad rights of way, recreation areas, and where drinking water or fisheries is affected.
  • The Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission, a commission of three counties, two states, the federal government and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, provides citizens and communities unique access and engagement in the cleanup.
  • Public health education and project outreach is widely available.

Soil Repository

Contaminated soil waste generated by property remediation, homeowner projects, or business development is taken to nearby repositories. Repositories help keep the public safe by locating contaminated material in a central, stabilized, and controlled location. There are several repositories in the CDA Basin. All are successful and regularly monitored to ensure public and ecological safety.

Local Health Information

Health risks are higher in areas where soil contamination is present and has not been cleaned up. Concentrated amounts of lead and other metals continue to both move through the Coeur d’Alene River system, ground water, floodplains, and the lateral lakes (known as the chain lakes). Metals concentrations tend to be high on hillsides between Smelterville and Kellogg due to past smelter emissions, and concentrates are commonly found on and near historic mill sites.

Blood lead screening is available to residents living within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site free of charge through Panhandle Health District’s Kellogg office. To find out more information or to schedule an appointment call (208) 783-0707.

Education & Resources

Downloadable Materials