EPA needs $635 million and 30 years to clean Silver Valley

Idaho's Silver Valley will need to pay $635 million under a new 30 year plan by the federal government to clean up over a century's worth of mining pollution in the region.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its plan for clean up of the Silver Valley in the form of an interim Record of Decision Amendment on Tuesday, providing a detailed proposal for the clean up of heavy metal pollutants such as arsenic and lead in the valley.

Silver Valley, located some 50 miles east of Spokane in Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Mountains, has been one of the country's most renowned and prolific mining regions since the 1880's. The main metals mined in the area have included silver, zinc and lead, with the region responsible for half of the United States' silver production in the 1970's.

Its rich harvest of minerals has not been obtained without environmental toll however, and the Coeur d'Alene River Basin currently suffers from severe heavy metal pollution after over a century of mining in the area.

The federal government's new plan arrives in the wake of intense dispute with local residents over the scale of clean-up operations, with a 2010 proposal requiring a total of $1.3 billion for a 50 year plan.

A trust fund of around $800 million was created to pay for the clean-up work after the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe filed a lawsuit in 1991 against mining companies with historical operations in the valley.

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