Hazardous Waste Management

The HWMP’s mission is to work with federal and state governments to protect natural resources throughout the Tribe’s aboriginal territory that have been injured from historic releases of mine waste contamination as well as other releases from past industrial activities. This work includes addressing the St. Maries creosote site along the St. Joe River, implementing the Coeur d’Alene Lake Management Plan, and working with the Restoration Partnership to “restore, rehabilitate, replace, and/or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources and the services they provide in the Coeur d’Alene Basin.”

HWMP staff also participate in the Coeur d’Alene Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission (BEIPC), which provides oversight of the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund Site clean-up being implemented by EPA. The Lake Management Department Director is one of the seven BEIPC Commissioners and HWMP staff provides support through the Technical Leadership Group.

HWMP staff is working on other water quality protection projects which include but are not limited to:

  • In 2009, a joint Lake Management Plan (LMP) was developed and adopted by Tribal Council and the Governor of the State of Idaho. The goal of the LMP was, “to protect and improve lake water quality by limiting basin-wide nutrient inputs that impair lake water quality conditions, which in turn influence the solubility of mining-related metals contamination in lake sediments.” The reason this LMP was developed was because EPA deferred identifying a remedial action for Coeur d’Alene Lake due to local pressures wherein EPA relied on the State and Tribe to utilize their Clean Water Act authorities to manage and monitor the Lake. Unfortunately, after a decade of implementing the LMP, water quality has continued to decline and further action is necessary. In 2019, the Tribe retracted the Tribe’s support as an adopting government to the LMP and formally asked the EPA to evaluate how they will use their authorities to address the legacy of mining pollution that exists in the bottom of Coeur d’Alene Lake.
  • To view the document in its entirety, follow this link to the Lake Management Plan.
  • St. Maries Creosote Site: Staff continues to provide project management for this contaminated site along the St. Joe River within the exterior boundary of the Coeur d’Alene Reservation. The project is in the final design phase, leading up to construction when creosote laden logs will be removed, and contaminated sediment and soil will be remediated. Staff will continue to fight to completely restore the site to a level that is acceptable and in the future will be useable by the Tribe. The Tribe’s Cultural Resources Department has been and will continue to be involved to ensure that cultural resources are protected throughout remedial and restoration work.
  • Restoration Partnership: For more than 20 years, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe led the way in the Coeur d’Alene Basin Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) process. As a result, today all settlements have been reached with the mining companies that were found potentially liable for injury to natural resources, due to the release of mining related contamination into the Coeur d’Alene Basin. In September 2003, in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ruled on liability in Phase I of the NRDAR trial. Over the course of the litigation, the named defendants have individually settled with the United States and the Tribe, either separately or in concert. In some instances, the State also settled its outstanding claims by joining in the settlement and filing a complaint concurrently with the filing of a consent decree. The United States and Tribe are “’trustees” for purposes of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA) over the federal and tribal land as well as the migratory natural resources of: fish, wildlife, birds, biota, water and groundwater based on their involvement in the management and control of such natural resources. Today, the Tribe, through the HWMP, is actively involved in the Restoration Partnership jointly with the Federal and State Co-Trustees where they are developing and implementing a Restoration Plan for the Coeur d’Alene Basin. For more information, please visit: www.restorationpartnership.org. You will also find a link on the website in order to view the Natural Resources Injury Determination report that was finalized in 2000.
  • EPA Superfund Site in the Silver Valley: The Lake Management Department Director and HWMP staff continues to stay involved in the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund Site. HWMP staff also participates with the BEIPC where they provide oversight of EPA’s implementation of the Operable Unit (OU) 1, 2 and 3 Records of Decision including amendments. Staff review remedial project designs and continue to follow progress in EPA’s clean-up efforts in the lower Coeur d’Alene River in order to address the ‘conveyor belt’ of contamination that continues to flow into the Lake. Staff continues to work closely with the Tribe’s Cultural Resources Dept. to ensure resources are protected throughout remedy and restoration.