Like the rest of the country, the town of Kellogg, Idaho, is at war. But this one is a civil war over the Silver Valley Superfund site, the legacy of a century of mining and smelting in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin. The U.S. EPA is poised to decide this week whether to expand the cleanup efforts from 21 square miles to 1,500 square miles, which would make Silver Valley the nation’s largest Superfund site. Those in favor of the expansion say it is the only hope for the area, which is heavily contaminated by lead despite the $200 million the EPA has already spent de-toxing the site. Those opposed fear the Superfund stigma would destroy the area’s nascent tourism prospects and prevent the mining industry from rebuilding in a region that is desperate for employment opportunities.
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