Basin Property Remediation Program
Frequently Asked Questions
Definition of Superfund Site
- Q: What is a superfund site?
- A: A Superfund site is an area where the federal government has determined and formally declared the environment to be contaminated to the extent that it is considered a national priority for cleanup. The contamination may be harmful to human health and/or the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2002, which is the document that selected a method to clean up the site. The Basin Property Remediation Program is part of the ROD.
Boundaries of Site
- Q: What are the boundaries of the Superfund site?
- A: According to Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2002 Record of Decision, the boundaries of the Superfund site include mining-contaminated areas in the Coeur d’Alene River corridor, adjacent floodplains, downstream water bodies, tributaries, and fill areas, as well as the 21-square mile Bunker Hill “Box” located in the area surrounding the historic smelting operations.
- Q: What are the benefits to getting my yard sampled/remediated?
A: There are several benefits to getting your yard tested.
- If the results show your yard is contaminated, it will be remediated at no charge to you.
- Cleaning up contamination will reduce lead and arsenic exposure to children, expectant mothers and others living in the home now or in the future. Remediating an individual property also reduces lead levels community-wide.
- Having a home with a clean yard may improve the value or ability to sell a property.
The greatest benefactors of this work will be to children age six and under and pregnant women residing in the home and in the community.
- Q: How is soil sampling done?
- A: Soil samples are taken at different locations in the yard and at depths from 1 to 18 inches deep, or in the case of a garden area, 24 inches. These samples are sent to a lab for testing. Soil, gravel, flower and vegetable gardens are sampled separately. Samples collected from within each area are combined and analyzed to give a representative set of data for each area. Results are mailed to owners and tenants.
- Q: Will it cost me anything to have my yard sampled?
- A: No. Sampling and remediation are free to the property owner/tenant.
- Q: Will I get the results from the sampling of my yard?
- A: Yes, you will be notified by mail of your sample results. If your property is a high-priority property, which means there are children 6 years of age and younger and/or pregnant women living in the home, you should be notified in approximately one month from the time your property is sampled. If your property is not high priority it generally takes about six months for your test results notification to arrive by mail. There are occasionally special circumstances that delay the arrival of lab results letters to up to ten months from the time of sampling.
- Q: Where do my sampling results get sent?
- A: The sampling results will be sent to the homeowner. If your home is not owner-occupied, both the owner’s and the tenant’s address should be supplied on the consent form so that both parties get a copy of the results.
Definition of High-Priority
- Q: What is a high-priority property/residence?
- A: A high-priority property or residence is a home where children six years of age or younger live and/or pregnant women reside. Daycare facilities are also considered high-priority properties.
- Q: How is the decision made to remediate a property?
- A: Soil or gravel that tests over the action levels of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) for lead, and over 100 ppm for arsenic are considered contaminated and in need of remedial action. The report you receive by mail will explain the results and recommended remediation prescription.
- Q: What happens if the sampling results show that my yard is contaminated?
- A: Your yard will be placed on a list of properties be remediated.
- Q: Do I have any say in how my yard is cleaned up?
- A: Yes, IDEQ can often work with property owners as long as an owner’s requests are consistent with IDEQ needs and budget. We will go over the plans for remediating your property with you. We will discuss how you want your property remediated and we will create a plot plan which will be approved by you before the work begins.
- Q: What will be done on adjacent properties and roads?
- A: Rights-of-ways, alleys and dirt roads are being tested throughout the site. They will be remediated at the appropriate time as determined by the project managers.
- Q: What if I don’t want to have my yard remediated or sampled?
- A: Eventually, all properties within the Site will need to be sampled and remediated so that the contamination can be managed. Sampling and remediation are not mandatory at this time.
- Q: If the sampling results for my yard show it is contaminated, how long will it be until my yard is cleaned up?
- A: If there are children 6 years of age and younger and/or pregnant women living in the house, it would be classified as a “high-priority” property. High-priority properties are cleaned up first. There are target areas where we concentrate our cleanup efforts each season as well. The current target areas are Mullan and other Upper Basin areas. Other decisions that factor into remediation scheduling decisions are weather; contractor schedules; workforce issues; contracts; likelihood of recontamination; and cost considerations. Properties that are not high-priority move through the standard pre-construction process. Because we sample many more properties than we can remediate, and because high-priority properties are identified and remediated before non high-priority properties, it could take from a few months to a few of years for a property to be remediated once it is sampled.
- Q: Can I stay in my house when my yard is remediated?
- A: Yes, residents can continue to live in their home while the property is being remediated. However, it is important for occupants of the property, especially children and pets, to stay away from the contractor’s equipment and the remediation areas.
- Q: How will my yard be cleaned up?
- A: Remediation involves removing contaminated soil or gravel, replacing with clean dirt or gravel, and then placing sod or grass seed on bare soil areas. Properties with lead lower than the action level (700 to 999 mg/kg) may be “greened,” which means that grass or gravel are added to enhance the cover that already exists.
- Q: Are there additional hazards my children/family might be exposed to during the remediation (e.g. dust, holes, piles of contaminated dirt, equipment, etc.)?
- A: Precautions are taken to limit hazards such as dust, open holes and equipment during the yard cleanup. However, it is a construction project. The homeowner is expected to be aware of potential hazards during the remediation process and cooperate with the contractor by limiting yard activities during construction.
Costs to Homeowner
- Q: What does it cost for a yard to be remediated?
- A: It costs nothing for the homeowner. In the Basin Property Remediation Program which operates in the Basin, Operable Unit 3, the Federal Government pays 90% of the remediation costs and the State pays 10%. In the Box Property Remediation Program that is now complete, the Upper Mining Group paid remediation costs.
- Q: What if I am unhappy with the way my yard was remediated?
- A: You can contact the Superfund Project Office at (208) 783-5781. We can address your needs in many cases.
Real Estate Concerns
- Q: I want to sell my property. Can it be placed at the top of your priority list?
- A: No. Remediation decisions are not based on property listed for sale.
Reducing Exposure to Lead/Arsenic
- Q: What can I do to lower my family’s exposure to lead/arsenic?
- A: There are several things you can do to lower your family’s exposure to lead.
- Have your property sampled so that you know if you need to be concerned.
- Dust frequently with a wet cloth to keep household dust down.
- Vacuum frequently to reduce dirt/dust in the household.
- Wash hands before preparing food and eating.
- Keep children from playing in areas that are suspected to be contaminated.
- If you live in an older house, have your paint tested to make sure you don’t have lead-based paint.
- Be aware of your kid’s toys. There are still toys made with lead or painted with lead-based paint.
- Contact Panhandle Health District about other ways you can lower your family’s exposure to lead/arsenic.
- Q: What, if any, are my responsibilities after my yard has been sampled/remediated?
- A: The property owner is responsible for complying with the Institutional Controls Program administered by the Panhandle Health District (see the ICP page in the BEIPC web site).
- Q: Is it required to disclose that a home is located within a Superfund site?
- A: The widely known and publicized presence of lead and other heavy metals in soils found throughout the Silver Valley/CDA Basin are hazardous materials or adverse material fact, which can require disclosure. According to Idaho Code Sections 55-2501-2518, the “Idaho Property Disclosure Act,” any property owner or seller is required to disclose the known presence of hazardous materials or substances to prospective buyers. Idaho Code Sections 54-2086 and 2087 of the Idaho Real Estate License Law requires real estate brokers and salespersons to disclose all adverse material facts actually known or which reasonably should have been known about the real estate buyer/seller customers and clients. If you have any questions about these requirements, these laws should be carefully reviewed.