June 21, 2021
bunker hill

The Bunker Hill Superfund Site Is Still a Toxic Mess

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…the Bunker Hill Superfund project has had problems from the start. In 1990, the EPA’s inspector general accused the administrator of the agency’s Pacific Northwest division of taking “extraordinary steps to prevent formal enforcement actions from being initiated against the owners” of the Bunker Hill complex. Meanwhile, the smelter complex deteriorated into a public health hazard, and mining companies—including the Bunker Limited Partnership, which had purchased the complex in 1982 from the Gulf Resources and Chemical Corporation and reopened the Bunker Hill mine in 1988—moved assets to other corporations. In 1991, the Bunker Limited Partnership filed for bankruptcy, which meant the company was no longer liable for paying for the cleanup.

 A 2014 letter from the local health district to a Kellogg resident with the results of an analysis from dust samples collected from the woman’s home showed lead concentration measuring 1,590 micrograms. The letter noted that “house dust remains a critical source of exposure to lead and/or arsenic”—a known carcinogen—“for local residents, especially young children,” and that lead concentrations in house dust should be less than 500 micrograms.