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Title: Letter to Governor Gary Locke asking him not to sign the MOA
Author: John Osborn
Date: August 12, 2002 | ID#: 020812
Category: Superfund, Coeur d'Alene
Keywords: Superfund Site, Memorandum of Agreement, MOA

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Governor Gary Locke
Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

 August 12, 2002

 Dear Governor Locke,

 We have learned from news releases and other sources that Washington state is on the verge of signing an agreement with Idaho concerning clean-up of the mine wastes polluting the Spokane River basin.

The content of the agreement has been kept secret. The agreement has never been disclosed to the people of Washington, and especially those most directly impacted living in Spokane. We urge you to withhold signature of any secret agreement until this information has been reviewed publicly.

As you are aware mining companies directly dumped 62 million tons of mine wastes into the river for 84 years, creating one of the most polluted spots on earth. The pollution is spreading down the Spokane River watershed like an Exxon Valdez in slow motion. Toxic wastes have crossed the state boundary, and are polluting the Spokane River as far as Lake Roosevelt behind Grand Coulee Dam. Public health warning signs are posted on beaches.

We are particularly concerned that Washington State not further sacrifice the Spokane River in order to "get along" with Idaho--a state that has aided and abetted the polluters and has no commitment to a comprehensive clean-up in Idaho and certainly not Washington. Indeed, the secret agreement raises alarm that after sacrificing the Spokane River, the Aquifer may be next.

The Coeur d'Alene-Spokane pollution is a colossal failure by government. We are concerned that "back-room" dealings by Washington not continue those failures, further risking the public health and the environment and wasting hundreds of millions of tax dollars for a botched cleanup.


John Osborn, MD
Sierra Club's conservation chair for eastern Washington and Idaho
Founder, The Lands Council