Friday, May 18, 2012

Ecology removing toxic metals at more area beaches

by Jani Gilbert, communication manager, Eastern Regional Office

Beach at Harvard Road being capped in 2008.

Sometime later in the summer, you may encounter a closed portion of the Centennial Trail — or construction in progress on a favorite little beach of yours. While the day’s plans may need to change, the good news is that when the work is done, that little beach area will be cleaner and safer for you and your family to use.

The Department of Ecology is continuing work this summer to make sure people and wildlife aren’t exposed to heavy metals that settled on some of the Spokane River’s shorelines as a result of old mining practices in the Silver Valley, Idaho.

Ecology will work to get the word out about beach or trail closures before they happen.

What will Ecology do?

The agency is proposing to remove contaminated soil at three Spokane River beaches: the Barker Road North beach on the north side of the Spokane River, east of the Barker Road Bridge — plus the Islands Lagoon and Myrtle Point beaches on the south side of the Spokane River. Workers will install a protective cap over the remaining soil to reduce the possibility of exposing people and wildlife to contaminants.

Similar work was done at the Flora Road beach in 2009. However, heavy spring runoff in 2011 damaged portions of the protective cover or cap. This year a new cap will be installed, designed to minimize future erosion.

Ecology and local river groups will plant native vegetation on the shoreline to help stabilize the banks.

How to comment

Documents that describe the planned work are available for public review from May 17 through June 15, 2012. They include draft construction design drawings and a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist, which concludes that the work itself will not harm the environment. A list and explanation of the permits that will be needed to do this work also is included.

Send comments to Dave George, site manager, Washington Department of Ecology, 4601 N. Monroe, Spokane, WA 99205, or by email at, 509/329-3520. Check in with Ecology to find out how to access the documents, by calling 509-329-3400. Or see the entire news release, including detailed instructions.

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