To view this newsletter and other important updates on the Upper Columbia River RI/FS check out Citizens for a Clean Columbia’s (CCC) website: http://cleancolumbia.org/ccc/tributary.asp
Citizens for a Clean Columbia
Our mission: to advocate for a clean Columbia River ecosystem NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2011
Update on the 2009-2010 Northport,
WA Community Health Assessment
In our July newsletter, we wrote about a health
survey being conducted by Jamie Paparich, with the
assistance of CCC and residents living in the
Northport community. Jamie provided a summary of
the first 128 questionnaires received. She has now
logged in 321 questionnaires and provides the
summary below based on responses to a checklist.
For details about the survey, see our July newsletter
on the website or at your local library.
This activity and the preliminary results from the
questionnaires drew the interest of CBC as well as
investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital
(MGH). Bob Keating, a reporter from the Nelson
Bureau of CBC came and interviewed Jamie and
several members of the Northport community about
their health concerns living downstream from the
Teck smelter and Celgar pulp mill. His report will air
early in 2011. The investigators from MGH have
funding for a formal epidemiologic survey, focused
on inflammatory bowel disease, to help better
understand the disease burden facing our
community and potential causes of disease.
Northport Population: From 1925 – 2010, the
population has remained around 375 people. This
includes the 5-7 mile radius surrounding the town.
• Thyroid/Endocrine Disorders: 116 respondents
(36%) [General Population (GP): .6%] Generations
impacted*: All 3; most reported thyroid disease
• Arthritis: 127 respondents (40%) [GP:
osteoarthritis, ages 45-64 years, .30%;
Rheumatoid .1%] Generations impacted: All 3
• Cancer: 65 respondents (20%) (colon, stomach,
prostate, uterine, lung, skin, breast, kidney, throat,
and bladder) Generations Impacted: 1st & 2nd
• Ulcerative Colitis (UC)/Crohn’s Disease: 54
respondents (17%) (18 Crohn’s and 36 UC) [GP: 7-
11/100,000] Generations impacted: 2nd & 3rd
• Brain Aneurisms/Tumors: 23 respondents (7%)
Generations impacted: All 3
• Pulmonary Embolism: 8 respondents (3%)
Generation impacted: 2nd
• Parkinson’s Disease/Multiple Scoliosis (MS): 13
respondents (7 and 6, respectively) (4%)
[GP: .1%/<1%] Generations impacted: 1st & 2nd
*Generations: 1st: born or living in Northport since 1925
– present; 2nd: born or living in Northport since 1942 – The
majority lived in the area for about 18 to 20 years; 3rd:
born or living in Northport since 1970 or children born to
at least one parent from the 2nd Generation; most were
not born or ever lived in the area.
Jamie also found high levels of arsenic and mercury
from those reporting results of hair samples. Several
have reported high serum calcium as well.
Mindy Smith, MD, MS; Jamie Paparich
Black Sand Beach no more
Black Sand Beach, located 3 miles south of the
Canadian border near Northport, was so named
because of its covering of slag. Slag, an industrial
waste product from smelting, contains hazardous
substances like lead, copper and other heavy metals.
We are happy to report that the Black Sand Beach
cleanup, based on an agreement between Teck
America Inc. and the Washington State Department
of Ecology, has been a complete success! Many local
workers were hired through contracts with URS and
a national demolition corporation called Envirocon,
Inc. Teck paid for the removal of over 6,000 cubic
yards (9,100 tons) of slag and replaced it with clean
gravel, cobbles and sand; reinforcing the shoreline
and creating more beach area with a gentler slope.
Some areas required digging down over 14 feet and
showed layers of slag separated by areas of sand and
other sediment. The slag was hauled to the Trimac
facility in Trail, BC for recycling. If pictures are worth
a thousand words – here are three thousand of ours
(top: loading last of the slag; middle: upper beach;
bottom: lower beach).
We will be interested to see what the beach looks
like after spring runoff; monitoring will continue for
several years. We are also interested in renaming
the beach – perhaps in honor of Frank Ossiander
who tirelessly fought for attention and remediation
of toxins in our river. Tell us what you think.
Mindy Smith, MD, MS
Technical Advisor Report: Update on
the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility
We now have preliminary information from three
RI/FS studies. Data from the Fish Tissue, Surface
Water, and Beach Sediment studies were presented
by subcontractors for Teck and the EPA and by the
Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) at
the November, 2010 Lake Roosevelt Forum (LRF)
Conference in Spokane, Washington. All three study
presentations included the qualification: “Risk
management decisions for the site will be based on
the site-specific risk estimates.” No environmental
risk assessments were presented for any of these
studies because exposure data are pending from the
ongoing human use studies (Upper Columbia River
Recreational Use Survey and Tribal Resource Use
Survey). Human health risk assessments will be
made by the EPA when all information from the
individual studies is available and is combined with
results from the two ongoing use surveys. WDOH
will issue any pertinent human health advisories
warranted by the combined information. Please take
the time to complete the Recreational Use Survey if
asked to do so at a boat launch, campground or
beach along Lake Roosevelt or the Upper Columbia
River. A summary of each study is presented below.
Fish Tissue Study
The fish tissue study was designed to analyze fish
consumed by other fish, wildlife and humans for
concentrations of metals, metalloids, dioxins, furans
and other organic compound levels. Samples for the
fish tissue study were collected in September and
October 2009. Sample collection and analysis for the
fish tissue and surface water studies is complete.
Three size classes of fish were sampled ( <6 inches,
6-12 inches and >12 inches) in six discrete sections of
the Upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt
stretching from the Canadian border to Grand
Coulee Dam. The species collected for the study
included black crappie, bluegill, burbot, kokanee,
lake whitefish, largescale sucker, longnose sucker,
lake whitefish, mountain whitefish, peamouth, pike
minnow, rainbow trout, redside shiner, sculpin,
smallmouth bass, walleye, and yellow perch. At
least three species were collected for each size class
in each of the six sampling regions. A total of 2,327
fish were caught for the study.
Whole fish from each size class of each species were
composited (combined and homogenized) in groups
of three to five prior to analyze for the chemicals of
interest. The individual fillets of walleye and
smallmouth bass >12 inches in length were analyzed
for mercury prior to compositing.
Select data for large whole fish composites were
presented at the LRF conference for burbot,
combined suckers, rainbow trout, kokane, whitefish,
smallmouth bass and walleye. The walleye and
sucker data was compared to information from the
1996-1998 Columbia River Basin Fish Contaminant
Survey for arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury
selenium, zinc, PCB’s and the sum of dioxins and
furans. No explanation for the agreement or
disagreement of the data from the two studies was
• Arsenic levels in the new study were much lower
for walleye than in the earlier study. Arsenic levels
were similar for suckers in both studies.
• Cadmium levels for both suckers and walleye
appeared to be somewhat higher in the new study
than in the earlier study.
• Copper levels for both walleye and suckers were
lower than in the earlier study.
• Lead levels were higher for suckers and lower for
walleye when compared to the earlier study.
• Mercury, selenium and zinc levels were similar for
both species in the two studies. In the large fish
fillets (burbot, kokane, rainbow trout, smallmouth
bass, sucker, walleye and whitefish), the mercury
levels in a number of sucker fillets and several
walleye and smallmouth bass fillets were above
the EPA recommended criterion for mercury.
• PCB levels were roughly the same as in the early
study for suckers and slightly lower for walleye.
The reverse was true for the sum of dioxins and
furans. In the large fish fillets (same as for
mercury, above), total PCBs levels in a few sucker
fillets and one whitefish fillet exceeded the WDOH
screening level for total PCBs. Several more sucker
fillets, two more whitefish filets, and three
rainbow trout fillets were above the more
stringent EPA screening level for total PCBs.
What does this mean? Although it is too soon to
complete risk assessments for wildlife, fish or
humans for the new data, these data can be
compared to the 2005 fish study, the results of
which prompted WDOH to issue a fish advisory for
the Upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt due to
mercury levels in walleye, burbot and largescale
suckers. Whole fish levels of mercury in the 2009
study are indistinguishable from the levels reported
for the 2005 fish tissue study for walleye, burbot and
The complete Fish Tissue Data Summary PowerPoint
presentation from the LRF conference is available at
http://lrf.org/conf/presentations/6.html . The
WDOH fish advisory is available at
Surface Water Study
Surface water study samples were collected in 2009
and 2010, representing three different flow
conditions. Sample collection and analysis for the
surface water studies is complete. Water samples
were collected across eleven transects (slices from
shore to shore) and at two single sample sites. Two
transect sites were in Canada, one at Waneta and
one between Castlegar and Trail. The transect sites
in the US were obtained from the border to Grand
Coulee Dam. Single site samples were obtained on
the US side of the border at Waneta and Black Sand
Beach. Eight samples were collected at each
transect. The right and left banks were sampled near
the top and the bottom of the water column. A
disturbed sample with suspended sediment was
collected at both banks of each transect. The middle
of the river channel was sampled near the top and
the bottom of the water column at each transect.
The samples were analyzed for more than 300
organic compounds and 68 elements. Data for
arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium,
zinc and PCBs were presented at the LRF conference.
Except for selenium, all metal and metalloid levels in
the undisturbed samples were at least 10 fold better
than the EPA chronic ambient water quality
criterion. Selenium levels were at least five fold
better than the criterion. Total PCB levels presented
at the conference were roughly one million fold
better than the criterion. It should be noted that the
collection of these water samples did not coincide
with an accidental spill into the Columbia River by
Results of the arsenic, lead and copper analyses of
the disturbed samples from eight of the transects
were presented and compared to EPA’s maximum
contaminant level (MCL) for these potential
contaminates. All disturbed samples had arsenic
levels below the MCL, although a few samples were
close to the MCL. Seven of the seventy-two
disturbed samples had lead levels above the MCL.
The determined copper levels in all the disturbed
samples were less than one-tenth the MCL.
What does this mean? So far, undisturbed surface
water does not appear to be a concern due to the
measured contaminant levels.
The complete Surface Water Data Summary
PowerPoint presentation from the LRF conference is
available at http://lrf.org/conf/presentations/6.html.
Beach Sediment Study
Selected results from the seven beaches (Black Sand,
Upper Columbia RV Park, Northport, Dalles Orchard,
China Bend, Summer Island and Barnaby Island)
sampled in September 2009 and April 2010 were
presented at the LRF conference. An additional 28
beaches are scheduled for sampling in Spring 2011.
At each beach, sixty surface samples were collected.
Samples were randomly combined at the site in
groups of twelve to yield a total of five composite
surface samples for each beach. An additional five
subsurface or core samples were obtained at each
beach and split into three depth intervals for
analysis. All samples were sieved to obtain five size
fractions for each sample; <2mm (bulk), <2mm to
250µm, 250µm to 125µm, 125µm to 63µm and
<63µm. The analytical suite consisted of metals,
metalloids, radionuclides and total organic carbon.
Only the data for bulk samples was summarized
during the presentation. Analytical results for bulk
surface composite samples and the core samples
from all seven beaches were presented for lead,
copper, zinc and arsenic. The results were compared
to published EPA residential soil screening levels for
lead, copper and zinc and to the Washington State
cleanup level for arsenic.
It should be noted that the Black Sand beach
samples were obtained prior to the 2010
remediation action by Teck and Washington State
Department of Ecology.
• Lead: All but Dalles Orchard and Summer Island
beaches had bulk composite surface samples with
lead levels above the EPA residential soil screening
• Arsenic: Only Black Sand Beach had a bulk
composite surface sample with arsenic above the
EPA residential soil screening level. With respect to
bulk core sample results for arsenic for the seven
beaches, again only Black Sand Beach had arsenic
levels above the Washington State cleanup level.
Black Sand Beach had bulk samples from all three
depth intervals with arsenic levels above the
Washington State cleanup level. Dalles Orchard
beach had one 0-6” core sample with a
determined arsenic level just below the cleanup
• Other metals: None of the bulk composite surface
samples from any of the seven beaches had copper
or zinc levels above the corresponding EPA
residential soil screening level.
What does this mean? The results from the 2009-
2010 bulk composite surface sample analyses for
Black Sand, Northport and Dalles Orchard beaches
can be compared to the 2005 study data for arsenic,
lead, copper and zinc levels. Arsenic levels were the
same in both studies for Black Sand and Northport
beaches and slightly reduced for Dalles Orchard
Beach in the 2009-2010 study. Lead levels were
slightly higher in the 2009-2010 study at all three
beaches. Copper levels were similar at all three
beaches for both studies. Zinc levels for the Black
Sand Beach bulk composite surface samples were
slightly lower in the 2009-2010 study. Zinc levels at
Northport and Dalles Orchard beaches were
comparable in both studies.
Black Sand, Northport and Dalles Orchard beaches
were identified in the 2005 study as presenting some
minimal risk to recreational visitors to the beaches.
The complete Beach Sediment Data Summary
PowerPoint presentation from the LRF conference is
available at http://lrf.org/conf/presentations/9.html.
Joe Wichmann, PhD; CCC Technical Advisor
Learning and Networking at the Lake
Roosevelt Forum Conference, 2010
This year CCC members once again attended the
Lake Roosevelt Forum (LRF) conference in Spokane,
WA thanks in part to scholarships provided by the
forum. LRF is an organization whose mission is to
promote dialogue around protecting and preserving
the environment. Their annual conference provides
an opportunity for many groups to present and
discuss projects and concerns about the Columbia
River and its surrounding ecosystem. Attendees
included members of all the surrounding tribes, the
National Park Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, US
Fish and Wildlife, EPA, WA Department of Ecology,
corporation representatives, city officials (including
Marcus, Northport and Trail ), and Eastern
Washington University faculty and students. CCC
received recognition from Dennis McLerran, the new
region 10 EPA administrator, for our advocacy work
and assistance in reviewing and critiquing plans for
the Risk Assessment/Feasibility Study (RI/FS).
Examples of sessions include the Columbia River
Treaty (options and possible consequences of its
continuation); the Columbia River shoreline
management and water management programs;
updates on the RI/FS with presentations from EPA,
Teck, the Tribes, and other concerned parties;
concerns about invasive mussels; and attempts to
protect white sturgeon, salmon, and native trout.
CCC member Mindy Smith and technical advisor Joe
Wichmann participated in a panel discussion on
community perspectives on the RI/FS. The room was
packed and we were pleased to be able to share our
concerns and to find consensus on keeping the
public more involved and better informed.
We also learned more about the UCR Natural
Resource Trustees (members – Colville Confederated
Tribes, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the State of
Washington, and the U.S. Department of the
Interior) and their work on the Natural Resource
Damage Assessment (NRDA) beginning with a pre-
assessment screen (see our website). The group is
independent of government and charged with
assessing natural resource injury and restoration
needs. Teck and Celgar have been invited to
participate. This process is commonly conducted at
superfund sites with land managed by federal, state
or tribal governments. To learn more, go to
members will hear more about this process and will
be able to provide input in the coming months.
Special recognition goes to Andy Dunau who
organized and moderated at the conference.
Mindy Smith, MD, MS
October 2010 Mercury Spill
A mercury spill of about 15 kg occurred on Thursday
October 7th from the Teck smelter into the Columbia
River. This is about 3 times the amount of discharge
that Teck reported in 2008. Lenford O’Garro of the WA
Department of Health (DOH) noted that the maximum
concentration of mercury detected at the Waneta
Station was 0.46 ug/L about 5 hours later which is
below the maximum contaminant level for drinking
water of 2.0 ug/L. DOH believes this to be insignificant
with respect to direct human exposure (drinking or
CCC was told that prevention of future spills is not
under the purview of DOH and that questions about
this should be directed to EPA and the DOE.
Mindy Smith, MD, MS
Update from the Colville Confederated
As many of you know, information from the CCT on use of
the river and surrounding plants and wildlife is critical for
EPA’s ecological risk assessment. We are pleased to
report that the CCT Resource Use Survey is in full swing.
They are doing 24-hour nutrition survey, a food
frequency survey focusing on 12-month consumption,
and a resource use and practices survey (plants and
medicines – use for purposes other than food). As of
November 2010, about 1700 people have been screened.
This work should be finished at the end of March 2011.
Their biggest challenge has been keeping data collectors
The tribe has also been responsible for several studies
and expert reports to prove that the current river
contaminants came down from the Teck smelter. The
following is a summary of the history of smelter
discharges of several metals:
• Between 1921-1997, slag was released that
contained: 511,870 tons of zinc, 45,735 tons of lead,
and 2,838 tons of arsenic.
• Between 1921-2005, liquid effluent contained:
284,222 tons of zinc, 22,298 tons of lead, 677 tons of
arsenic, 972 tons of cadmium, and 227 tons of
• Between 1921-2205, air emissions contained: 39,868
tons of zinc, 22,215 tons of lead, 1,492 tons of
arsenic, 511 tons of cadmium, and 234 tons of
• Perhaps most concerning is the unaccounted for
metals (difference between the tonnage of feed
inputs and outputs (products+outputs+emissions).
This includes: 931,833 tons of zinc, 819,177 tons of
lead, 11,877 tons of arsenic, 2,749 tons of cadmium,
and 89 tons of mercury.
• There have been at least 82 reported spills occurring
at Teck from 1987-1997 including 8 mercury spills
(see Preassessment Screen from the UCR Natural
resource Trustee Council on our website)
The Tribe had outside experts obtain core sediment
samples from the border to Onion Creek. They drilled
down to pre-smelter sediments. They were able to
trace the Sullivan ores, one of Teck’s major ore sources.
They also did a slag distribution analysis to show that
slag can be transported as far down as Coulee Dam.
They also did a grain size analysis and slag releasing
study. CCC continues to support their efforts.
Mindy Smith, MD, MS
Want to be More Involved?
CCC welcomes new members; you can join on our
website (www.cleancolumbia.org). You can also find
meeting meetings and links to other organizations
involved in protecting the environment.
Our next General Member Meeting will be on March
28, 2010 at the Museum in Colville. We will post
updated information on the website. Please join us.
EPA – Region 10 1200 6th Ave., Suite 900, Seattle,
WA. 98101 or call: 206-553-1200), our contact in the
Washington State Department of ecology John
Roland (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your legislators
about your concerns about the Columbia River.
Electronic comments can be submitted to Senators
Patty Murray at:
http://murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactMe, Maria Cantwell at:
http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/ or to Governor
Christine Gregoire at www.governor.wa.gov.